Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, author of The Discomfort of Evening, has succeeded in becoming the first Dutch author to win the International Booker Prize. 

Never before has a Dutch author managed to make it off the short-list for the prestigious literary prize. They 29-year-old author has said they are “as proud as a cow with seven udders.”

Previous Dutch nominees to make the short list include Tommy Wieringa in 2019 for Murrat Idrissi’s Death, and Harry Mulisch in 2007, who was nominated for his work in its entirety. However, Rijneveld has made history in the Dutch literary scene, becoming the first Dutch author to win the award.

The discomfort of an evening

Originally written in Dutch as De avond is ongemak, Rijneveld’s debut novel is about a 10-year-old girl called Jas who struggles with life in Noord-Brabandt. Following the death of Jas’ brother in a tragic accident, her family must work through the devastation together. The novel touches on significant elements of rural Dutch life such as religion, grief and sexuality.

Translator also rewarded

Rijneveld’s novel was praised by the judges for its poetic tone and delicate rendering of everyday Dutch rural life. This was something that was preserved in the translation of the novel from Dutch to English (all novels nominated for the International Booker Prize are read and judged in English) and thankfully the work of Rijneveld’s translator will also be recognised.

Rijneveld’s translator, Michele Hutchison, will also be awarded for her skillful translation of The Discomfort of an Evening into English. The two prize-winners will share the €55,000 award. Rijneveld has told the radio programme Nieuws and Co that they are happy Hutchison’s work is recognised by the prize givers, “You do it together, which is why I think it is so great that the prize is for both the writer and the translator.”

What next?

Having made history, Rijneveld’s next move will be to continue writing. In fact, Rijneveld remained distant from the translation process due to the fact that they did not want to linger in the world of The Discomfort of an Evening for too long. They feared that it would affect the writing of their next novel. Good news for us bookworms— international and Dutch alike!


How involved are you in the Dutch literary scene? Will you be reading this promising novel? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Eli Francis/Unsplash


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