Michele Hutchison & Marieke Lucas Rijneveld: Reap What You Sow
Great art doesn’t just reinforce or reassure: the authors we love challenge us; they illuminate new perspectives, make us question our certainties. They discomfort us. From its very title, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s International Booker shortlisted debut, The Discomfort of Evening, does not resile from that promise.
As an account of a family driven to the edge by grief, a study of where devout faith meets complicated shame, this is not like any other coming-of-age novel you’ve read. Set on a dairy farm during the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, it is visceral and corporeal, luxuriating in bodily exploration and physical debasement. ‘We only knew about the harvest that came from the land, not about the things that grew inside ourselves,’ its young narrator declares.
An astonishingly raw and accomplished first novel, its 28-year-old Dutch author has hit the bestseller lists in their home country, and with Michele Hutchison’s translation they have shared their at times brutal, at times grotesque tale even wider, drawing discomfort and accolades in equal measure. Join Rijneveld and Hutchinson in this thought-provoking session chaired by Sophie Collins.