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The Evenings: A Winter's Tale

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  8,126 ratings  ·  499 reviews
'I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.'

Twenty-three-year-old Frits - office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes - finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Pushkin Press (first published 1947)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  8,126 ratings  ·  499 reviews

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Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
‘The potatoes are very good,’ her mother said making prolonged eye contact with me. I looked down at my plate. The potatoes were fine, but very good seemed like an exaggeration. This thought lay wriggling on my tongue, but I managed to swallow it and instead make an unconvincing noise of agreement. ‘It’s warm in here, isn’t it?’ her father said to no one in particular. ‘It is,’ I felt compelled to reply, and immediately regretted it. Her mother pursed her lips. Should I have said that the temper ...more
Nate D
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
None of those other blurbs and reviews about boredom and comedy prepared me for the horrible creeping dread that underlies all of this. This moves and fails to move in all kinds of amusing rhythms and digressions, but the humor is, at heart, very dark. And there's a weight to the malaise that more recent literatures of ennui are less able to invoke. It's 1947, Europe is restored to reason. It's 1947, and no one will ever really recover. Brilliant and imperceptibly devastating. ...more
(Nearly 3.5) This Dutch novel from 1947 appears in English translation for the first time. Twenty-three-year-old Frits van Egters lives with his parents, works at an office job, and spends his evenings wandering the streets of Amsterdam and visiting friends and relatives. His ennui comes through clearly in these 10 chapters set at the end of December 1946. Anyone who has been stuck in a dead-end job, living with their parents in their mid-twenties, will sympathize with Frits’s situation. I parti ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Frits looked at the clock. "All is lost," he thought, "everything is ruined. It's ten minutes past three. But the evening can still make up for a great deal.

Gerard Reve's 1947 debut novel "De Avonden" is a classic of Dutch, indeed European, literature, for example ranked as the best Dutch novel since 1900 by the Society of Dutch literature.

70 years later it has finally appeared in English, translated by Sam Garrett, also translator of the wonderful Tirza. See this LA Review of Books interview fo
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ng, 2016-odyssey, fr
This is really not a me book. My initial impression as I started reading this is that it reminded me heavily of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Unfortunately for me, this did not change as the story went on. There's that minutiae and sense of futility and psychotic breaks that just drag. I know others love this, but not me.

Fritz lives with his mother and father. She harps and complains and he longs for peace and calm. He is obsessed with baldness and death, and his powerlessness. He goes through the day
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What was I thinking? Aimlessness and ennui belie nothing but aimlessness and ennui. This book starts off, goes on and finishes in precisely one way...soporifically. Or maybe several ways...unexcitingly, pointlessly, uninterestingly. Nothing happens. Nothing. A 23 year old man lives with his parents, sleeps, dreams, eats, works and has conversations which come across as exchanges of particularly unexciting, pointless and uninteresting anecdotes. I'm all about reading internationally, but if this ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
A Dutch novel! Don't see too many of those around. This from 1947 and counting as a sort of classic. A bit too '47 for my tastes, but certainly worth an afternoon of your reading pleasure. I suspect even a bit more humorous than what its reputation is likely to suggest.

as Friend Nate D reminds :: 1947 Dutch masterpiece finally sees itself into English.

On its way in its very own English'ing by Sam Garrett.

TRANZ=late pleaZe!! Thank you!

And Lydia Da
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

'Evenings' by Gerard Reve (translated by Sam Garrett)

3.5 stars/ 7 out of 10

I had not heard of the author before, despite reading a lot of fiction in translation, so I was interested to read a book by him.

The translation of the novel flows easily. The novel describes 10 evenings in the life of the narrator, Frits van Egters. It has an unusual opening that gripped my attention.The level of detail of the humdrum nature of home life built up an atmosphere of boredom very effectively.

I was impressed
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the prematurely bald
Recommended to S̶e̶a̶n̶ by: an unfiled card
Shelves: 2019, mist, somewhere-else
Twenty-three-year-old school dropout Frits van Egters works in an office and lives with his parents in the close confines of a small apartment. The narrative takes place in Amsterdam over the last ten days of 1946. Frits frets over how to spend the evenings, for it is crucial that for their duration he escapes the presence of his parents, whose irritating personal habits he minutely categorizes to himself in an obsessive manner. Reve employs a limited third-person point-of-view in the novel, fol ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

Review copy courtesy of Pushkin Press and NetGalley, many thanks.

A surprising experience. At first I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book but it became oddly enjoyable. 1946 Amsterdam. Peace has broken out in Europe and when you'd expect a young man to feel elated, Frits is underwhelmed. We don't have any information about how he spent the war years but we do know that, instead of picking up his studies where he'd been forced to suspend them and looking for a new way of life, he is living
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Controversial classic of Dutch literature, written shortly after the Second World War, about 10 winter days (or rather evenings) in the life of a young man, Frits, living a meaningless life in post-war Amsterdam. You either love this book or hate it. There is no real plot, Frits wakes up, goes to work and spends boring evenings with his parents or pays one of his friends a visit, and then has a nightmare.

Still despite the gloomy atmosphere the book is humorous. The dialogues between the friends
Leo Robertson
Jan 31, 2017 marked it as to-read

He rubbed his hands together and shuffled his feet.
"Still, I believe you're feeling a bit cold," the lady said.
"Is it cold in here?" asked Joosje.
"No, I don't think so," he said, "it is only my feet. My shoes have rubber soles."
"Are rubber soles that cold then?" the old woman asked.
"They are when you have sweaty feet," Frits said, "then you have to place your shoes behind the stove each night and hang your socks over the pipe. In fact, you need to wash your feet every night too, but that is
James Kinsley
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arguably the most pointless book I've ever read, and I absolutely loved it. Frits lives at home with his parents, who irritate him immeasurably, and obsseses about baldness, between fiddling with the radio, leafing idly through books and visiting his friends, which then causes him anxiety about maintaining conversations. Nothing of any note happens, but his life is laid so open, what's created is both hilarious and heroic. A genuine joy, and a searing look at the emptiness of life, as relevant t ...more
Tim Parks
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the strangest and funniest novels I have ever come across. A masterpiece.
David Samuel
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Evenings is an easy novel in terms of language.

In terms of its content, one might argue that it’s not so easy to plough through 300 or so pages about a young man’s mundane procrastinations over the course of ten days in winter.

Between turning the radio on and off again a million times, looking out the window, examining himself in the mirror, commenting and deliberating on people’s baldness and passive-aggressive confrontations with infuriating parents, Frits Van Egters leads a boring and u
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

First published in the Netherlands in 1947, The Evenings is a difficult book to describe, so please bear with me while I endeavour to give it a go!

This brilliant, strangely compelling novel revolves around the life of Frits van Egters, a twenty-three-year-old office worker who lives at home with his parents in a small flat in Amsterdam. The story, such as it is, unfolds over the ten days leading up to New Year’s Eve in 1946, as Frits struggles to fill the interminable downtime that fall
Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
Humour is a very subjective thing. All the reviews on the cover of The Evenings: A Winter's Tale (1947) by Dutch author Gerard Reve suggest this is a laugh-a-thon. It is, apparently, and variously, diabolically funny, hilarious, and the funniest, most exhilarating novel about boredom ever written. It was also given a rave review on one of my favourite podcasts - Backlisted. It was the episode of Backlisted which inspired me to read this.

There's no plot, just ten evenings in Frits's life at the e
Faiza Sattar
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2017
“Valuable time, time irretrievable, have I squandered…”

An inexplicably good read by the Dutch author Gerard Reve, very much comparable to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The Evenings’ protagonist is a 23 year old clerk, Fritz, who lives with his parents. The story follows his ten mundane days, from 22nd of December through the New Years, spent in a pedestrian fashion with bickering, bantering, casual gossip and conversational relays that lead nowhere. Ennui of life in general is set in contrast to
I read almost half of Gerard Reve's The Evenings before abandoning it. I would have given up sooner, but I had read that the tome was voted the favourite book of The Netherlands, and wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. The idea at the novel's core was interesting, but I did find it rather repetitive after a while, and quite difficult to get into. I'm unsure as to whether this was due to a translation issue, or something else. There is nothing really wrong with The Evenings; it just wasn' ...more
Andy Weston
Translated from Dutch this novel tells of ten days in the life of Frits van Egters. He is an oddity, Living with his parents he lies in bed each morning, he unsocialbly eats green pickled herrings and brown onions, turns the radio on when it’s not welcome and off when it is. He squeezes his spots publicly, tells bad jokes, takes cod-liver oil, obsesses about going bald and makes fun of his friends who are. He has strange dreams that verge on nightmares then wakes the next morning and starts agai ...more
Dec 28, 2018 marked it as abandoned
I totally, utterly failed to connect with this novel. Naming it a comic masterpiece is in itself a sign of very dry humour indeed. While I understand the concept of this book- or so I hope - and appreciate the rhythmicality of vivid dreams concluding every chapter, I don't find it in me to complete it, although the mother's nervous fit might be indicative of some interesting tensions or traumas. Thank you, but no, thank you. ...more

If this story had been half as enticing as the cover it would have been a stunner.

Briefly, The Evenings is a meandering shopping list of the mundane, blandly verbalised by some chap called Fritz who appears to have no discernible purpose than recount the uneventfulness of his winter evenings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this book offers some phenomenal life-altering message that my impoverished intelligence simply couldn’t grasp. But I’m afraid its relentless stream of aimless wittering of
Sorina Negrilă
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the more awkward books read in recent years - a post-war novel, published 1947, that never mentions war, but makes its effects felt throughout the 10 consecutive days described in the life of the 23y old Frits van Egters. He wanders around the house, visits friends and family in Amsterdam, goes to the movies and is almost never silent, but his dialogues and encounters are at times grotesque, bordering the antisocial psychopathic realm disturbingly often. He's an observer, meta-commenter a ...more
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This was hard....
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book is supposed to be a classic, in the top ten favorites of Dutch literature. I have read other books by Dutch authors that are incredible, amazing, etc. This one was not one of them

The book info says: "Twenty-three-year-old Frits - office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes - finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy rabbit."

All I can say about it
Jim Coughenour
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I finished The Evenings tonight, the phrase that bubbled to the surface of my mind was Shelley's
Pinnacled dim in the intense inane.
Its narrator, the 23-year-old Frits van Egters, spends his aimless evenings eating heavy meals with his parents; visiting, entertaining and insulting his friends; torturing his stuffed rabbit – completely possessed by a scabrous solipsism that offers no relief either to himself or his readers. The story is spectacularly boring, almost nothing happens (in this re
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One million stars!!!!! Like Forest's review of cocaine on Review (we agree!) ...fucking funny, beautiful, nearly perfect, really; I loved it, reminded very much of Rhys, whom I love (of course Im not a complete idiot)...and esp. the aggressive passivity of her protagonists and narrators I was reminded of by Frits...just amazing, I can see The Catcher in the Rye comparisons but this is better (and I love Catcher in the Rye) and the Beckett comparisons but I find them lazy like when people say shi ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Brilliant evocation of a grim just-after-the-war Amsterdam, where the bored 24 year old protagonist Frits - a filing clerk - hears his parents slurp soup whilst listening to the radio and understandably goes out a lot to visit friends or the movie house or dances. However there is not much excitement here either. Instead there's deep sarcasm and cynicism and sadistic humour and avoidance of anything that might hold meaning. Frits, for instance, obsesses about baldness, its causes, its cures. Ama ...more
Jonathan Kear
This is probably the strangest book I've ever read, but contains virtually no redeeming qualities. It's a literary trope at its finest, the musings of a 23 year old with a fraying sense of sanity. I give it two stars because on a handful of occasions I admittedly found myself laughing at the protagonist's wildly unpredictable utterances which provided much needed transient reprieve from an otherwise disjointed plot and painfully repetitive themes. I feel like I'm supposed to give this book five ...more
Koen Van den Eeckhout
My only thought while reading: "Oh my God will you just stop whining please!" Glad it's finished. :) ...more
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Gerard Reve was een Nederlands schrijver en dichter. Samen met Harry Mulisch en W.F. Hermans wordt hij gerekend tot De Grote Drie: de drie belangrijkste Nederlandse schrijvers van na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Tot zijn bekendste werken behoren De avonden (roman uit 1947) en Werther Nieland (novelle uit 1949). Tot 1973 schreef Reve onder zijn oorspronkelijke naam Gerard Kornelis van het Reve, maar ver ...more

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“Kijk,' zei zijn moeder. Ze stond voor het gasstel en wees achter zich op het aanrecht. 'Bedoel je die fles?' vroeg hij. Er stond een fles met donkerrode vloeistof. Op de hals zat een oranje capsule. Hij trad naderbij. 'Wat is dat?' vroeg hij. 'Ik heb een fles wijn gekocht voor vanavond ,' antwoordde ze, een aantal oliebollen uit de braadpan wippend. 'Dat is prachtig,' zei Frits. Hij nam de fles bij de hals op. Er zat een blauw etiket op met een gele rand. 'Bessen-appel,' las hij zacht. 'Bessen-appel,' zei hij bij zichzelf, 'bessen-appel. Help ons, eeuwige, onze God. Zie onze nood. Uit de diepten roepen wij tot u. Verschrikkelijk.” 21 likes
“Ik adem, en ik beweeg, dus ik leef. Is dat duidelijk? Welke beproevingen ook komen, ik leef.'
Hij zoog de borst vol adem en stapte in bed. 'Het is gezien,' mompelde hij, 'het is niet onopgemerkt gebleven.' Hij strekte zich uit en viel in een diepe slaap.”
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