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Publisher's Summary

Winnter of the 2020 International Booker Prize

A stark and gripping tale of childhood grief from one of the most exciting new voices in Dutch literature

Ten-year-old Jas lives with her strictly religious parents and her siblings on a dairy farm where waste and frivolity are akin to sin. Despite the dreary routine of their days, Jas has a unique way of experiencing her world: her face soft like cheese under her mother’s hands; the texture of green warts, like capers, on migrating toads in the village; the sound of “blush words” that aren’t in the Bible. 

One icy morning, the disciplined rhythm of her family’s life is ruptured by a tragic accident, and Jas is convinced she is to blame. As her parents’ suffering makes them increasingly distant, Jas and her siblings develop a curiosity about death that leads them into disturbing rituals and fantasies. Cocooned in her red winter coat, Jas dreams of “the other side” and of salvation, not knowing where this dreaming will finally lead her. 

A best seller in the Netherlands, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s radical debut novel The Discomfort of Evening offers listeners a rare vision of rural and religious life in the Netherlands. In it, they ask: In the absence of comfort and care, what can the mind of a child invent to protect itself? And what happens when that is not enough? With stunning psychological acuity and images of haunting, violent beauty, Rijneveld has created a captivating world of language unlike any other.

©2018 Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. Translation © 2020 by Michele Hutchison. Epigraph quotations appear on: a statue of Maurice Gilliams in Antwerp (source unknown); from ‘Spring’ in The Collected Poems of Jan Wolkers, published as Verzamelde gedichten in 2008 by De Bezige Bij. (P)2020 Audible Ltd., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Genevieve Gaunt's performance of this audiobook - soft-voiced, delicately accented, hauntingly matter-of-fact—suits the 10-year-old narrator, Jas. There is an innocence to Gaunt's tone that adds to Jas's unsettling tale of loss and struggle." (AudioFile Magazine)

“The effects of the unspeakable grief felt by 10-year-old Jas’ family after the death of her beloved older brother are explored in painful and painstaking detail in this startling debut novel.... Rijneveld’s extraordinary narrator describes a small world of pain which is hard to look at and harder to ignore.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Rijneveld's International Booker Prize-shortlisted debut is not a novel for those expecting triumphal outcomes. Readers who can persist through the agonies of a family falling apart, however, will find their breath taken away by Rijneveld's prose as filtered through Hutchison's deft translation.“ (Booklist, starred review)

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What listeners say about The Discomfort of Evening

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Booker winner is a Downer

This book has an excellent translation from Dutch,but it is one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. It is filled with incest, self mutilating, cruelty to animals, and thoughts of suicide.

8 people found this helpful

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Daaaarrrrkkkkk

I don't know about evening, but I can tell you that this book was discomforting. Winner of the International Booker Prize this year, it's worthy. But, dark ... man.

The writing was incredible. The author has an amazing way with words, and they didn't hold anything back. The story was raw and unnerving.

I didn't enjoy it, but I did appreciate.

Rated R: Sexual situations

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

An amazing journey through grief and longing through the voice of a child. Shocking and endearing at the same time. Brilliant story and beautiful reading.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully read, beautiful book

This is an amazingly beautiful articulation of a naive young girls attempt to process her family’s grief and loss and her own ,through a thicket of rigidity, neglect, coldness and cruelty that ensued as a result. There is not an iota of maudlin sentiment in this writing. It is sharp and clear and despite the subject, just shines.

3 people found this helpful

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Strange

This was just strange & perverse. Why is it that books that win awards are odd?

2 people found this helpful

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Ugh....wasted credit and time

Horrible book with no plot. Depressing, dark, monotonous, uninteresting. Your time and money is better spent on other literature.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing

Simply beautiful. A gorgeous account of adolescent innocence and curiosity, of death and what it means to keep living, or not.

1 person found this helpful

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Too disturbing

The author writes beautifully. It was the plot I couldn’t handle. I found the children’s “sexual exploration” disturbing and the parents neglect of the children unnatural, unbelievable.

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Extremely depressing

I stayed with it hoping for resolution, clarification, anything but the painful and sad story. Author seems obsessed and there are very negative themes.

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sad and beautiful

A sad and beautiful story of a family shattered by sorrow told from. the point of view of the 12 year old daughter. My only criticism is that the daughter is way too naive for a contemporary 12 year old.