Mary Cadden, USA TODAY
Published 12:37 p.m. ET Aug. 27, 2020
Geoff Woolf instilled in his sons a love for literature, and when he got sick with COVID-19, they turned to books to help him — and others. (Aug. 17)
“The Discomfort of Evening,” written by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison, is the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize, announced at a digital event Wednesday.
Chosen from a shortlist of six books, Rijneveld’s “The Discomfort of Evening” tells the story of Jas, who has a unique way of experiencing the world, and her devout farming family living in a strict Christian community in rural Netherlands in the aftermath of a tragic accident.
A best-seller in the Netherlands, Kirkus Reviews called the novel “startling” and that Rijneveld’s “extraordinary” narrator “describes a small world of pain which is hard to look at and harder to ignore.”
At 29, Rijneveld is the youngest author to win the International Booker Prize, and “The Discomfort of Evening” is their debut novel. They have also published the poetry collection “Calfskin.”
Hutchison’s other translations include “An American Princess” by Annejet van der Zijl, “Mona in Three Acts” by Griet op de Beeck and “Seaweed” by Miek Zwamborn. She is also co-author of “The Happiest Kids in the World.”
Ted Hodgkinson, chair of judges, said in a statement, “‘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. … Combining a disarming new sensibility with a translation of singular sensitivity, “The Discomfort of Evening” is a tender and visceral evocation of a childhood caught between shame and salvation, and a deeply deserving winner of The 2020 International Booker Prize.’
On Twitter, author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld exclaimed “We Won,” while translator Michele Hutchison tweeted thanked Rijneveld “their repeated votes of confidence and kindness in sharing the prize with me.”
The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the U.K. or Ireland, and the contributions of both the author and translater is given equal recognition. The £50,000 prize will be split between Rijneveld and Hutchison.
The novel was released in the United States on August 18.
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