Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. by Michele Hutchison
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)...the knowingness of the author sits in contrast to the narrator, who is 12 years old by the end of the book ... Everything is filtered through her eyes, a child who believes that her mother is hiding Jewish people in the basement and that killing an animal will save her family. Yet this is also a narrator who is curiously observant of other people ... In the English translation, the choice to break up longer Dutch sentences into shorter fragments, often by inserting semicolons and colons, subtly changes the tone of the novel, tempering the urgency of Jas’s breathless, slightly dreamy monologue. Translator Michele Hutchison deftly switches between registers and gives Jas a strong, unique voice ... Ultimately, the novel will find both admirers and detractors for its poetic, mannered language, realistic bleakness and descent into surreal darkness. The book doesn’t quite keep the promise of its compelling first part, where Rijneveld and Hutchison immerse us in Jas’s world with detailed observations: a dried-up raisin found under a cabinet, skin formed on warm milk. As the tragedies pile up and the narration intensifies, the fascinating characters and themes sometimes lose their immediacy amid dense prose.