Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. by Michele Hutchison
RaveThe Arts Desk (UK)I was ten and stopped taking off my coat.\' This bare beginning marks the opening of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s startling and lyrical novel, translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison: an introduction to ten-year-old Jas and the dislocated world of metaphor she inhabits ... Rijneveld’s portrait of Jas and her grief-stricken family continuously tests...boundaries of distress. A confrontation with lovelessness, loneliness, bodies and their limits, it’s a devastatingly vivid, minutely observed exploration of growing up in the aftermath of loss and under the pressure of increasing emotional neglect ... As an urgent portrayal of what it means to feel undone and shut in by grief, The Discomfort of Evening is an intoxicating, dark and highly original debut. It was a bestseller in Rijneveld\'s native Netherlands, and the English translation has recently been shortlisted for the International Booker prize. It\'s easy to see why.
RaveThe Arts Desk (UK)With a poet’s sensitivity, Kassabova meets with and tells the stories of the vividly varied cast of people who inhabit this fraught corner between North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, mining their conversations to explore the experience of \'identity as tyranny\' ... The compelling blend of memoir, history and travelogue into which these ideas are turned is a poignant, powerful argument to overcome our obsession with difference. The book’s architecture seamlessly weaves its multiple perspectives, gathered from distant family members, monks, fishermen, widows, outsiders and survivors ... Together, they form a haunting and elegant whole with a vehement message at its core: \'Lake and mountain were one. The world, when left alone, was one.\'
RaveThe Arts DeskNeatly contained, truncated by decisive white space, Jenny Offill’s paragraphs...are pithy, aphoristic; mostly they stretch to the extent of a vivid vignette, and the logic that links them is not necessarily linear, but spatial, as they slip from observation to joke to anecdote to rehearsals of Q&As and facts carefully collected like objet trouvés, although the gaps between them never feel abrupt ... The book is that enviable achievement of managing to be both very funny and very serious. Offill cannily captures the anxious yet ambivalent ambience of late capitalism ... Writing from within her experience of how we react in this context of dread, panic and incredulity, Offill carefully mines the ironies of our bewilderment, and the deadpan comedy that follows is empathetic rather than dismissive ... At one level, this novel is also a freshly intimate family portrait ... Yet the book is also much bigger than that ... in a slim novel, the vertiginous but also everyday process of coming to terms with the approaching climate crisis is made vivid.