The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
This was an uncomfortable read about a girl who is anxious about the death of her brother, the stability of her mother & father's relationship, and her body. I am a stalwart follower of the Man Booker International book prize, and have discovered some amazing authors and books by reading books from the long list. I usually read the almost all the books on the short list and most certainly the eventual winner, but with this book (the 2020 winner!) I held off on reading it for a long time. I'm not sure if it was the dour subject matter, or the equally foreboding book cover. I finally resolved to read the book once I realized this was the only Man Booker International winner I had not read yet.
I tore through this book as it ripping off a band aid from a scabbed over womb. It was at times gross, tantalizing, and erotic. This book tackles unvarnished, and uncomfortable subjects. The death of the brother really affects everyone in the family different. The parents seem to be burying their pain deep while the main character, 10 year old Jas, is worried her parents are drifting apart. She becomes obsessed with sex, because she believes if she can get her parents to 'lie on top' of each other, they will stay together. The oldest brother kills animals, and suggest sexual 'games' that Jas and him can try. They sometimes bring in the neighbor girl Belle too. When we were all teenagers, we all experimented with sex and our new forbidden body parts, but Jas and her brother, and younger sister take it to extremes. This book perfectly captures the doubts, anxiety, and fears of a young child who is trying to understand death, and is going through puberty, too.
There was lots of discomfort while reading this book, but I don't think I will be able to easily forget it. This was a book that will be seared on my brain for some weeks to come.