International Booker Prize 2020

The Discomfort of Evening shortlisted

2 April 2020

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and Michele Hutchison have just won a first ever Dutch shortlist nomination for the International Booker Prize with The Discomfort of Evening (Faber & Faber). The jury announced the six nominated titles online. The International Booker is awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The vital work of translators is celebrated, with the prize money (£ 50.000) divided equally between the author and translator. The winner of the 2020 prize will be announced on 19 May.

Jury member and writer Valeria Luiselli said:

I think this book stands the test of time in this new time in which we have plunged all of a sudden, and it does so in a way that the the space of intimacy, of family life and family lexicon, are re-signified, because of the attention that this book pays to the small minute details of everydayness.

Also shortlisted are:
* The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder
* Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes
* The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated from Farsi by Anonymous
* The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated from Spanish by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh
* Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, translated from German by Ross Benjamin

Left: Michele Hutchison, photo: Elma Coetzee. Right: Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, photo: Jouk Oosterhof

The Discomfort of Evening

The Discomfort of Evening was a bestseller in the Netherlands, and has or will be translated in eight languages including Arabic, German, Spanish and Swedish. The novel follows Jas’ experiences as her religious farming family is torn apart by her brother’s death. In this fine debut novel, poet and writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld forces us to look at exactly what is seen, felt and tasted, not from a distancing helicopter perspective, but from close up, breathtakingly close up.

The English translation was published this March by Faber & Faber and received raving reviews in the press:

Catherine Taylor, in a review for The Financial Times, praised the “intensely raw, shockingly graphic, and memorable” novel, stating that “there is a bold beauty to the book, which for all its modernity seems to be set in a different age of automatic religious belief: the immensity and mystery of the universe coexisting alongside the claustrophobic community of farm, church and school.”

Writer Max Porter named it ““One of the best debut novels I have ever read. Shockingly good. Utterly unforgettable … A classic.”

Vogue called Rijneveld ‘the literary name to know’, whose work is ‘equally gripping in translation’.

The Guardian also praised the translation by Michele Hutchison, stating: ‘Translator Michele Hutchison deftly switches between registers and gives Jas a strong, unique voice … Poetic, mannered language, realistic bleakness and descent into surreal darkness … Compelling … Fascinating characters and themes


2020 International Booker Prize shortlist announcement