I thought about being too small for so much, but that no one told you when you were big enough … and I asked God if he please couldn’t take my brother Matthies instead of my rabbit. ‘Amen.’

Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all.

A bestselling sensation in the Netherlands by a prize-winning young poet, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s debut novel lays everything bare. It is a world of language unlike any other, which Michele Hutchison’s striking translation captures in all its wild, violent beauty. Studded with unforgettable images – visceral, raw, surreal – The Discomfort of the Evening is a radical reading experience that will leave you changed forever.



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A book that has been shortlisted for the Booker International Prize 2020.

This is a story that will not be for everyone! It is dark, disturbing, unsettling, often graphic -and I found myself to be totally captivated by the voice of Jas who narrates her story. And it’s a tragic one she has to tell.

She lives with her family – a very simple, farm life in Holland – with the father always out working with the cows, the mother deep in religious thought and actions – and the children seem to discover the world through one another and through friends. The world can be a very black and white world through the eyes of a child. But when tragedy strikes and her brother dies, you watch as the family fall apart in their own different ways. And all Jas can do is watch on, when all she wants is a comforting hug and a grown up to tell her everything is going to be ok.

This is a savage portrayal of a grieving family – the mother is fading away in front of her family as she’s unable to process the loss, the father throws himself more into his work, – and all Jas can wonder is who will she lose next? Being brought up with religion at the fore, she is aware that for every action there is a reaction, for the good there is a bad – it’s the childish interpretation of understanding how the world works that was the strongest message for me throughout this book. There’s a lot of innocence in the discussions that Jas and her siblings/friends have – lots of ‘toilet’ talk! – and learning about growing up and all that entails.

There is a shock value with this book with the way that some of the storyline is explored, but I think that just adds to the heartbreak of what this little girl has been through and shows the effects of grief on a wilder scale. Tragedy keeps striking her family, so she has to look for comfort elsewhere as the outside world seems too harsh and bleak for her, and I was staggered by the ending, which just made the story all that more poignant and gut wrenching for me.

It’s often unpleasant, it’s troubling but makes for an absolutely compelling and absorbing read.