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Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Books In Order

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The Discomfort of Evening (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was born April 20, 1991. He grew up in a reformed Protestant farming family that lived in North Brabant before they moved to Utrecht.

Besides writing, Rijneveld worked on a dairy farm as a side job. It was something that keeps him grounded. The cows were his best friends; he enjoyed cleaning out the stables and shoveling the shit out. It was important for him to experience standing in the shit for him to write his debut novel.

Marieke has said that “The Discomfort of Evening” is inspired partly by the death of his brother when the author was just three. His brother was knocked over and killed by a bus while walking to school at the age of twelve. It took him six years to finish writing the novel. It was his lifeline, and he’s glad the book still does well. It means that he has not yet lost sight of these characters. He’d feared some kind of grieving process would happen, of losing these characters that he had lived with for six years.

Both his poetry collection and novel, despite being published three years apart, started in tandem, and even share some lines. The challenging part for him was how to write them when he didn’t have all that many memories of his brother’s death. So he started with Matthies, and just during the writing arrived at the shape the novel’s got now. He saw “Calf’s Caul” as preparation for writing “The Discomfort of Evening”.

He is said to have developed an interest in writing during primary school after reading “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling, which he borrowed from the library. Since in Reformed circles any references to magic are considered taboo, he copied the entire novel out onto his computer in order to re-read it over and over again after returning the novel.

During elementary school they weren’t too sure that he’d ever be able to write. He was bad at language, and even worse at math; even having trouble holding a pen. Whatever he tried to write he would write it phonetically, to a point where people would really get worried. They’d tell him he couldn’t write.

He identifies as both female and male, and adopted the second first name of Lucas when he was nineteen, having been bullied during secondary school because of his “boyish nature and appearance”.

If he ever changed his name, he’d just be Lucas, and that’s what he’d prefer to be called. But he’s also hesitant to get rid of that part of his childhood, the girl part, Marieke. That is what his parents named him, whereas he made Lucas up himself. He knows that he would rather be a boy, and has also gone through the consultation process at the VU in Amsterdam.

But as for embarking on the process of operations and hormones, he doesn’t know if that’ll help him feel more like a boy. Since they turn you into a man. He feels like he’s somewhere between boy and girl, however a little bit more on the boy side. He feels way more free he can wear boys’ clothes and call himself Lucas, it’s really given him a lot.

Rijneveld said that Jan Wolkers, who also grew up in a Reformed environment, is his idol. His interest in poetry was ignited while he attended speech therapy sessions and looking at photos with poetry written on them as he waited for the therapy session to begin. When he began making progress in therapy, he was allowed to read those poems by the therapist.

Rijneveld studied to become a Dutch teacher, however he dropped out in order to focus on writing.

“Calfskin”, his first poetry collection received the C. Buddingh’ Prize for best poetry debut in 2015, with a newspaper naming him literary talent of the year. In 2018, “The Discomfort of Evening” won the prestigious ANV Debut Prize, was awarded the International Booker Prize in 2020, and was a national bestseller.

“The Discomfort of Evening” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2020. A gripping and stark story of childhood grief.

Jas, ten years old lives with her strictly religious parents and her siblings on this dairy farm where frivolity and waste are akin to sin. Despite the dreary routine of their days, Jas has got a unique way of experiencing her world: her face is soft like cheese under her mom’s hands; the texture of green warts, like capers, on migrating toads in her village; the sound of “blush words” which are not in the bible.

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

This radical debut novel of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s offers the reader a rare vision of rural and religious life in the Netherlands. In it, the question is posed: in the absence of care and comfort, what can a child’s mind invent in order to protect itself? And what happens when that isn’t enough? With images of violent and haunting beauty and stunning psychological acuity, Rijneveld has created a captivating world of language like any other.

This novel deals with some rather difficult subjects and is unrelentingly bleak. However it is so carefully written and beautifully expressed that readers fell in love with this. Some readers have not felt this emotionally overwhelmed from reading a novel. The themes aren’t fun ones, with grief which manifests itself in uncomfortable ways, animal death/cruelty, self mutilation, incestuous sexual experimentations.

Marieke delivers a novel that is claustrophobic, dark, and visceral, and it explores the numerous contours of neglect, grief, perversion, depression, and cruelty through the eyes of Jas Mulder, its ten year old protagonist.

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