International Booker Prize Winner 2020 + Edinburgh Book Festival

Back in late February thirteen novels in translation made the long list (see plot summaries here) for the International Booker Prize 2020 and then on April 2nd if you recall, these six novels below made the shortlist.

International Booker Prize 2020 shortlist logo

International Booker Winner 2020

After a delay of some months due to the Covid crisis, the winner was announced this evening, 29 year-old Marieke Lucas Rijneveld from The Netherlands, with The Discomfort of Evening and their translator Michele Hutchison.

The Discomfort of Evening International Booker Prize Winner 2020

Author, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Described as an exciting piece of poetic prose, a subject rarely grappled with – how children grieve, not a novel that allows the reader any distance, visceral and shocking in parts, readers either loved it or hated it or simply did not finish it.

It was probably the least talked about novel of the six, and its win tonight will have been surprising to many.

The Novel Description

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld The Discomfort of Evening International Booker Winner 2020Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip. Resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; 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.

A bestselling sensation in the Netherlands by a prize-winning young poet, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s debut novel lays everything bare. It is a world of language unlike any other, which Michele Hutchison’s striking translation captures in all its wild, violent beauty.

I can’t say it was on my reading list, the dairy farming environment and strict religious upbringing, biblical references and childish fantasies were a turn off for me, but I did enjoy and was intrigued to listen to the author being interviewed this evening at the Edinburgh Book Festival, which is being held online, so I was able to attend.

Edinburgh Book Festival Online 2020Listening to the author read in Dutch was wonderful and the discussion between the judge, the translator and author worth listening to and may well influence more to discover what the book is about.

To watch that interview in replay, visit the EdBookFest site and check out some of the other interesting talks that are happening.


Further Reading

NY Times – A Dark Debut Propels A Dutch Writer to Reluctant Fame

The Guardian: My Family Are Too Scared to Read My Book

14 thoughts on “International Booker Prize Winner 2020 + Edinburgh Book Festival

  1. Nor me. But I am not unbiased. I really wanted Shokoofeh Azar to win! I think she would have been the first Australian to win the prize, and it would have been such a boost to Australian publishers to support translations of more writers here who write in their first language not English.
    And Shokoofeh is such a lovely person. It makes my heart swell with pride when she talks about Australia giving her the freedom to write, she said the same thing when I interviewed her at a local literary festival.


  2. PS I recently read a book about being trans which was very good, it wasn’t just about that, it had a plot to give the book narrative tension as well. One Day I’ll Tell You Everything, by Emmanuelle Pagano, translated by Penny Hueston (so you know the translation is excellent). Here’s my review if you’re interested:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It doesn’t immediately appeal to me either, but it does sound like the writer is doing something different and interesting. The win will probably mean the library has it, so I’ll look out for it (but probably won’t join a waiting list…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was interesting to listen to the interview, and certainly if the author chose a different genre of fiction, I might consider reading their work, but I really don’t get on well with transgressive literature. Not even curious having stepped in unwittingly and unable to appreciate the value of it.

      Liked by 1 person

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