Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld on Wednesday won the 2020 International Booker prize for debut novel The Discomfort of Evening, a story of childhood grief. At 29, Rijneveld is the youngest author to win the prestigious prize.
Rijneveld shares the prize of 50,000 pounds, about $66,000, with Michele Hutchison, who translated it from Dutch. Ted Hodgkinson, the chair of the judges, in a statement said The Discomfort of Evening is a “tender and visceral evocation of a childhood caught between shame and salvation, and a deeply deserving winner”.
Hodgkinson added: “We set ourselves an immense task in selecting a winner from our superb shortlist, filled with fiction bold enough to upend mythic foundations and burst the banks of the novel itself. From this exceptional field, and against an extraordinary backdrop, we were looking for a book that goes beyond echoing our dystopian present and possesses a timeless charge”.
Rijneveld, whose preferred pronouns are they/them, was chosen as winner from titles such as Shokoofeh Azar’s The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara’s The Adventures of China Iron, Daniel Kehlmann’s Tyll and Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season.
Rijneveld’s book was a bestseller in Netherlands when it was published in 2018. It is based on the story a 10-year-old girl named Jas, whose brother dies in an ice-skating accident and the family’s subsequent struggle with grief.
Rijneveld said receiving the prize was a great honour, The Guardian reported. “I can only say that I am as proud as a cow with seven udders,” they added. “Today, when the world has been turned upside down and is showing its dark side, I often remember those words. So, write, read, win, lose, love each other, but be relentless in this.”