During a long, alcohol-filled carnival night, nobody is who he is. Everybody is in costume and a role. Ralf grew up on ships, dresses as a ferryman and navigates people to the other side of the night. But a man dressed as a vicar says to Ralf that you do not dress as someone else at the carnival. No, at a carnival you are finally yourself.
Ralf meticulously keeps score of his beers, gins and other liquids as he goes through the narrow and busy streets and bars of Venlo. His sea legs will keep him up so that he can compete with the most experienced carnival veterans. Yet, Ralf discovers that the festival is not just about drinking and having sex in a dark alleyway. Once in a while, he thinks about his family at home, his girlfriend Sara and her children. He had a crush on her since they were both in primary school and then he met her twenty-seven years later as a single mother of four children. There and then, he decided to take care of her and her children.
This colourful carnival scenery unfolds the story of a man who discovers the deeper meanings of this festival. With warmth, unity and a serious tone for fun and frolicking. But he also finds that he has lost himself while caring for this family. In the end, he rediscovers himself, almost just like the vicar told him.
'The most tender novel that I ever read.' - Connie Palmen
‘Van Mersbergen writes with his heart wide open, but avoids cheap sentiment at all times. I haven’t had such a reading experience in a long time.’ – Het Parool *****
‘Jan van Mersbergen has become one of the most interesting Dutch authors of the past ten years. He is the kind of author that can invoke something great and unsentimental with very little means. To pull you into his world and into the heads of his characters.’ – NRC Handelsblad
‘A small masterpiece. Shaped like a small heartfelt tale on ordinary people, this is Van Mersbergens sixth, a great story on purification and reflection, religious aspects included.’ – de Volkskrant *****
‘Beautiful. Silent and raging, constructed and unhinged. Truly. Hats off.’ – Gerbrand Bakker
'Once in a while you read a book from cover to cover, this book wouldn’t have it any other way. Beautiful! Fantastic how the different storylines are intertwined. And a magnificent ending with…’ – Koops Book Store