Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld wins Booker Prize

LONDON: Dutch writer and poet Marieke Lucas Rijneveld won the 2020 International Booker Prize for translated fiction on Wednesday for their novel “The Discomfort of Evening.”
Rijneveld, 29, who uses the pronouns they/them/their, is the youngest winner of the prize.
Rijneveld and their translator, Michele Hutchison, shared the award for a debut novel, published in Dutch in 2018, that follows a 10-year-old girl growing up on a Dutch dairy farm with her devout religious family.
Ted Hodgkinson, the chair of the judges, praised the “novel of undeniable force,” highlighting the “sheer poetry of its perceptions.”
“I am proud as a cow with seven udders,” said Rijneveld, who still works on a dairy farm, by video link after Hodgkinson relayed the judges’ decision.
Hodgkinson said the judges had looked for a novel that “echoes the dystopian world we all now seem to inhabit.”
“This book astounded us all when we first encountered it,” Hodgkinson said.
Rijneveld is acclaimed in the Netherlands as “one of the greatest new voices in Dutch literature,” according to a Booker Prize biography.
Their first prize-winning poetry collection, “Caulf’s Caul,” was followed by debut novel “The Discomfort of Evening,” which became a national bestseller.
“’The Discomfort of Evening’ is about a family in which the oldest child dies,” said Rijneveld, whose elder brother died when they were 3 years old, before the ceremony.
“The family consists of four children. The oldest goes skating and falls through the ice,” they said.
“The book follows [younger sister] Jas, the main character, from the beginning and you’re really inside her ‘head’.”
Rijneveld told The Guardian earlier this year that they had “dressed like a boy and behaved like a boy” as a youngster before presenting as a girl in teenage years.
“Then at 20, I went back to the boy I was at primary school,” they told the newspaper, which said Rijneveld’s middle name, Lucas, was taken from an imaginary boyfriend during their childhood.
Rijneveld said their own family was “too frightened” to read the novel. “It’s difficult for my parents to understand that I’m not the girl that they raised,” they said. The novel beat five other shortlisted books to take the prize, which includes an award of £50,000 ($66,000). The prize is split equally between author and translator. — dpa
Among them were German author Daniel Kehlmann’s “Tyll,” partly based on a German folk tale about a boy who leaves his village to become a travelling entertainer and trickster.
The International Booker Prize began in 2005 as a biannual award for foreign-language authors whose works are widely available in English.
From 2016, it changed to an annual prize for a single translated book.
This year’s award ceremony was postponed in May, due to social distancing restrictions, and replaced with Wednesday’s “digital event.” — dpa