Dutch Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Winner of The 2020 International Booker Prize

On Wednesday 26 AugustThe Discomfort of Evening, written by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison, was announced as the winner of The 2020 International Booker Prize. The International Booker Prize is one of the most important literary prizes for fiction translated into English. The £50,000 prize will be split between Rijneveld and Michele Hutchison, giving both the author and translator equal recognition.

Born in April 1991 in Nieuwendijk, the Netherlands, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, whose preferred pronouns are they/them, is the youngest author and also the first Dutch national to win The International Booker Prize. They adopted the name Lucas, originally the name of their imaginary friend, to represent their identity as non-binary. Rijneveld grew up in a Reformed farming family in North Brabant before moving to Utrecht and, alongside their writing career, they still work on a dairy farm.

The Discomfort of Evening tells the story of Jas and her devout farming family in a strict Christian community in rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip. Resentful at being left alone, she attempts to bargain with God pitting the life of her pet rabbit against that of her brother; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all. The Dutch edition of ‘The Discomfort of Evening’ was a bestseller in the Netherlands, where it won the prestigious ANV Debut Prize.

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. Last year Tommy Wieringa was nominated for the translation of his ‘De dood van Murat Idrissi’ and in 2007 Harry Mulisch was nominated for his whole oeuvre but never before did a Dutch author make it to the shortlist of the literature prize.

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