‘The Discomfort of Evening’, written by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison, was on Wednesday announced as the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize, making the writer the youngest winner of the prize at 29.
The £50,000 prize will be split between Rijneveld and Hutchison, giving both the author and translator equal recognition. The winner was announced by chair of the judges, Ted Hodgkinson, at a digital event.
The book was chosen from a shortlist of six books during a process described by organisers as rigoros by a panel of five judges, chaired by Hodgkindon, who is also head of Literature and Spoken Word at the Southbank Centre.
Hodgkinson said: “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”.
“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.”
Born in April 1991 in Nieuwendijk, Netherlands, Rijneveld, grew up in a farming family in North Brabant before moving to Utrecht, and has already won awards for both first poetry collection ‘Calfskin’ and debut novel ‘The Discomfort of Evening’.
The Guardian described the winning book “an unflinching study of a family falling apart in the madness of grief, rendered all the more unnerving for the childishly plain, undramatic way their compulsive behaviours are reported”.
The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. This year the judges considered 124 books, translated from 30 languages.