Marieke Lucas Rijneveld: 'For a long time I believed that Hogwarts actually existed'

The winner of the 2020 International Booker on struggling through Proust and being terrified of Roald Dahl’s Witches

The book I’m currently reading
A thick Norwegian novel, Johan Harstad’s Max, Mischa & the Tet-Offensive, which has been a big success in the Netherlands. It’s an immersive read about the friendship between two boys and everything that can happen in a life.

The book that changed my life
A semi-autobiographical novel called Return to Oegstgeest by Jan Wolkers. It was the first book I read after I left home aged 19 and I was impressed by its free use of language and the themes of sexuality, religion and nature.

My earliest reading memory
A children’s book called Tales of the Wicked Witch, by Hanna Kraan. Her books gave me a feeling of safety and I wanted to live in the woods with a lot of talking animals. I wrote my own Witches Newspaper, which I posted through my friends’ doors.

My reading guilty pleasure
I borrowed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the library and loved it so much that I typed the entire book out on my computer. I think this was how I learned to write. For a long time I believed that Hogwarts actually existed, that I could take lessons there.

The last book that made me cry
… in fear was Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I saw the film when I was nine or 10 and was afraid of the witches for weeks. Every woman I saw in that period, I thought looked suspicious.

The book I often give as a gift
Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. It’s a truly stunning book. He’s a poet and you can see that in every sentence he writes. A young boy writes a letter to his illiterate mother and it’s about the Vietnamese war, the impact on the next generation, and about homosexuality and being different.

The book that changed my mind
A poet who changed my mind is Anna Enquist. I was very young when I read this Dutch poet and psychoanalyst who lost her daughter in a traffic accident. For the first time I understood how mourning and sorrow worked and how they could be expressed, not in the Bible or in children’s books, but in poems and she inspired me to write my own.

The book I’m most ashamed not to have read
So much is published. I’d love to embrace every book but it’s not possible. I haven’t read any Kafka and really should. I’m reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time at the moment, but finding it very slow going. I’m struggling but will persist because it is such an achievement.

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translator Michele Hutchison won the International Booker prize for The Discomfort of Evening (Faber).

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld review – a family’s grief
Tragedy shapes the darkly ritualistic world of three children in a Reformed farming family, in this bestseller from the Netherlands

Theodora Danek

20, Mar, 2020 @7:30 AM

Article image
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld wins International Booker for The Discomfort of Evening
Dutch author, 29, becomes youngest winner of £50,000 prize, for ‘virtuosic’ debut with translator Michele Hutchison

Alison Flood

26, Aug, 2020 @3:59 PM

Article image
Olga Tokarczuk: ‘I was very naive. I thought Poland would be able to discuss the dark areas of our history’
The books interview: A literary star in Poland, Olga Tokarczuk is hotly tipped to win the Man Booker international prize. She talks about facing controversy at home and the armed bodyguards hired to protect her

Claire Armitstead

20, Apr, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Énard review – Michelangelo in Constantinople
As a surveyor of east-west relations, the French novelist was drawn to the idea of a Renaissance artist taking an Islamic sabbatical - but the result is fiddly and unpersuasive

Leo Robson

12, Dec, 2018 @8:59 AM

Article image
The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn review – ‘Am I human?’
Shortlisted for the International Booker prize, this science-fiction satire on corporate language is a miracle of concision

Justine Jordan

12, May, 2021 @6:30 AM

Article image
Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes review – foul-mouthed satire of modern France
Shortlisted for the Man Booker International prize, this withering examination of France’s political polarisation is achingly hip

Catherine Taylor

02, May, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann review – in the footsteps of Bashō
The droll, beguiling story about a lecturer’s journey across Japan has been longlisted for the Man Booker International prize

John Self

21, Mar, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
The Man Booker International prize: a celebration of translation
The prize, together with the increased visibility of books by writers such as Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard, may be behind the rising popularity of translated fiction

Daniel Hahn

16, May, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
Anuk Arudpragasam: ‘There’s a lot of laughter in my life, but not when I read’
The novelist, whose A Passage North has been longlisted for the Booker prize, on being inspired by Descartes and the influence of Robert Musil

Anuk Arudpragasam

13, Aug, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld – review
A remarkable debut novel about a Dutch farm girl and her strict Christian family is unflinching and disturbing

Holly Williams

22, Mar, 2020 @9:00 AM