It is the first time a Dutch author has won the prestigious British prize. ‘I’m as proud as a cow with seven udders’, Rijneveld said in a reaction to the announcement which was transmitted on Wednesday evening on Youtube and Facebook.
— Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (@mariek1991) August 26, 2020
Rijneveld shares the €55,000 prize money with translator Michele Hutchison.
Rijneveld’s book, about a religious family falling to pieces after the death of a son and seen through the eyes of his 10-year-old sister, became a bestseller when it was published in the Netherlands. It has since been translated into 21 languages.
The jury praised the book for its ‘unfiltered look at the underbelly of family’ and called Rijneveld an ‘undeniable force’ in literature. Hutchison delivered a ‘sensitive translation’, the jury said.
Rijneveld was surprised at some of the reactions in the British press, which more than the Dutch critics, commented on the book’s ‘dark and lugubrious’ aspects, particularly its scenes involving incest and cruelty to animals.
‘I don’t know why that is,’ Rijneveld told the NRC. ‘In the Netherlands we think that we’re past all that. We have had Jan Wolkers, in his books animals are killed too.’