The Nobel continues to reign unscathed from its pedestal, but for some time now other prestigious prizes have begun to demand their share of space in the supplements. This is the case of the British Booker International Prize, endowed with the not inconsiderable figure of 50,000 pounds sterling, which recognizes the best work translated into English this year. Of the several novels contending for the title this year (the release of which has been delayed from April to September as far as we all know), there were two or three that aroused my curiosity or my approval. There was Tyll, by German Daniel Kehlmann,the splendid fresco on the Thirty Years’ War that we already hailed from here as one of the titles of the season; there was the latest work by Yoko Ogawa , a Japanese that I have always read with interest, The memory police, of which we know nothing over there in the English Channel; there were two works in Spanish, the best represented language among the candidates, but which, as they belonged to two Mexican and Argentinean authors respectively ( Fernanda Melchor and Gabriela Cabezon ), although published in Spain by Random, did not sound familiar to me. The debut of the Dutch 20-year-old Marieke Lucas Rijneveld prevailed over all of them, who is the one to talk about next.
Before the awarding of the prize, Rijneveld had already grabbed headlines and deserved juicy full pages in none other than The New York Times for questions that I don’t know if they really have to do with literature. Take the test by consulting the corresponding web page: you will find that our writer (or writer, because she expressly avoids gender indicators) is a beautiful and androgynous being, who poses with studied reluctance inside a suit that is too big or gives to drink to melancholy vaquitas in a bottle. The thing about the cow has hers because: she has lived on a farm since she was a childand continues working on another, so that the milk, the cattle and everything else form an important part of his biography, not to mention the pages he fills in his novel. Rijneveld jumped to world attention, New York press included, for the art of combination: a young, combative person with a tortuous past and a character to throw back, with a confessedly ambiguous sexuality, who suddenly aspires to one of the prizes of world lettering gold. The first novel you have written may be very good, yes, but with such a resume it is still a secondary element.
To all this, the novel is called The concern of the night and also has to do with farms and calves. “Exceptional”, emphasizes the Financial Times; “Impressive”, acclaims The Economist; “Beautiful, tender and very convincing,” opines the non-financial Times. It is a first-person narrative that, it seems, artistically exploits the author’s own experiences in her childhood years and on that catwalk between precipices that leads to adolescence. Details of the writer’s personal life are repeated almost in the form of a carbon copy in what is written: the farm, the cows, plus the pigs and the orchard, in a rural middle-class environment; the closed family, suffocation; the rigid Calvinist education, the obsession with punishment; the death of a brother that triggers a series of questions and opens the abyss; the gradual decomposition of the family until the final estrangement in one case and something much worse in the other. In this sense, Rijneveld does not seem to have done much more than endorse us his puberty memories, adulterated, yes, with some commercial pull details. In fact, hers could have functioned as a model autofiction title if it had not mediated the introduction of elements that, she says, have contributed to a multitude of misunderstandings that she does not explain.
Before the award, Rijneveld had grabbed headlines and deserved full pages
To start with his own family, the real one. Understandable thing, on the other hand; It turns out that her mother has withdrawn her greeting after having read the book, and that her father, a religious man himself, does not even dare to open it. No matter how much you try to explain to these honest Dutch farmers the status of fiction, the zero degree of writing, the distance between narrator and author and other postgraduate niceties, it must be difficult to bear the description of a type of family that It is very similar to yours, which is accused of coldness, clumsiness or pure and simple evil, and whose flaws, to liven up the roost, are added creative doses of incest, bestiality, sadomasochistic practices and suicide attempts.These extreme ingredients, which range from the gratuitous torture of pets to rapes with livestock tools (going through various eschatologies) have been chosen with the evident intention of giving flavor to a story that otherwise would have been told too many times, but that , in its crudeness, has no choice but to scare certain sectors of the public. Especially if the person reading is a person who is indirectly affected by reading.
The Restlessness of the Night is a good novel, without a doubt, by an observant, sensitive person who handles psychological records and knows how to toy with the reader’s interest. The excesses, which it has, may be attributable to youth, to narrative inexperience, to the more than obvious desire to epater le bourgeois. Even so, this atrocious chronicle of the collapse of a family in the midst of which a young woman begins to experience the parallel call of sex and death (brothers in Freud) deserves a reading safe from vain publications and back cover photographs.Perhaps in this way, her Nordic nihilism can sound more sincere and awaken some genuine concern in those who walk through it.

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