'You're my father,' the boy says on the telephone. His name is Deedee, he is ten years old, and he is talking to his father for the first time. What are family ties worth when you have never met each other?
After this first phone call from his son, Ivan is puzzled. Was it a joke? But after the boy’s second call, they meet, and when Ivan sees the kid, he knows it’s true. Deedee resembles Ivan's younger brother who stayed in Yugoslavia and was killed in the war. Ivan left Yugoslavia to escape the war and is making a living from a Houdini act in Amsterdam nightlife. He is tied to a chair in a burning jacket and has to free himself before the fire reaches his collar.
Ivan is invited to perform his act in the South of France, and the boy travels with him. Finally, Deedee can see his father’s act live! But the performance has an unexpected ending... If it is true that a child needs his father, does a father also need a child? And what is the value of freedom when you're tied down? Jan van Mersbergen’s impressive novel about fatherhood, the tenderness of a child and the search for freedom, captures the big subjects of great literature in a light and unsentimental tone.
‘This is a novel that outshines practically all Dutch literature that has recently been published. – Tubantia
'The Last Escape is a novel written with a self-evident intimacy in which two men find out what it means to be the father of a ten-year old. With his magnificent seventh novel Jan van Mersbergen shows that he is a master of the small gesture and the unspoken thoughts.' - F. Bordewijk Jury
‘Van Mersbergen is the author of the male portrait – like Anton Corbijn. Fierce and extremely clear, so that everything can be seen.’ – de Volkskrant ****
‘With his coarse hands, Jan van Mersbergen has written an intimate father-and-son novel that gives quite some food for thought.’ – Kenneth van Zijl, Lezen &cetera
‘How a perfectly simple sentence can bring a lump to your throat.’ – NRC Handelsblad ****
‘The Last Escape is a typical ‘Van Mersbergen’.’ – De Groene Amsterdammer
‘The Last Escape is a tear-jerker, but an intelligent one: well-written and authentic.’ – Trouw
‘A magnificent story about father and sons and every parent’s fear that their child gets hurt.’ – Elsevier