On Books & Reviews

When you want to feel slightly ‘uncomfortable’

The Discomfort of EveningThe Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘I’ll even dare to take off my coat. Even though it will feel uncomfortable for a while, but according to the pastor, discomfort is good. In discomfort we are real.’

Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s debut novel ‘The Discomfort of Evening’ will have you shifting around your seat right from the word go. Narrated from the eyes of Jas, a 12-year-old girl, the book shares the pain of grieving and the darkness your soul can descend to, if not helped in time.

Jas loses her elder brother Matties in a skating incident and what follows after is the family’s coping mechanism with this loss. Each one reacts to the incident differently and tries to find their way out. While the children are left rudderless as their parents are consumed in grief over the loss of their son, the children band together trying to move out, both of their emotional and physical space.

What keeps you turning page after age is the lyrical descriptions of remembrance, grief, darkness and death. There is nothing pleasant about the book, so don’t go into it thinking it would make you feel any better. But if you are finding a hard time to put words to the loss, emptiness and utter despair you feel, go right ahead.

It is said, that the translator becomes invisible when you don’t feel like the work you are reading was written in another language. So kudos to Michele Hutchison for bringing this unsettling piece of work to English readers.

Note: If sexual exploration is a trigger for you, you might want to tread cautiously.