Joost Zwagerman

18 Nov 1963
8 Sep 2015
Offer Flowers
Light a Candle
Pray for the soul
Seek Blessings

Johannes Jacobus Willebrordus (Joost) Zwagerman (18 November 1963 – 8 September 2015) was a Dutch writer, poet and essayist. Among his teachers was the novelist Oek de Jong.

Johannes Jacobus Willebrordus Zwagerman was born on 18 November 1963 in Alkmaar in the Netherlands.

At the age of nine, Zwagerman compiled a magazine, De Zwagergids, of texts and images from TV magazines.

Zwagerman received his high-school education at the Rijksscholengemeenschap Noord-Kennemerland in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where he graduated from havo and moved on to study Dutch language (Nederlandse taal- en letterkunde, unfinished) at the Pedagogische Academie.

He was a student at a course of creative writing by Oek de Jong.

Zwagerman made his debut with the novel De houdgreep in 1986. His second novel, Gimmick! (1989), was adapted as a play, and reached a much wider audience. He wrote his third book, Vals licht, in 1991 was short listed for the AKO Literatuurprijs. Vals Licht was the basis for a movie by Theo van Gogh (1993).

More novels followed, including Chaos en Rumoer, Zes Sterren and De buitenvrouw. Zwagerman’s work has been translated into twelve languages, including German, French and Japanese.

Besides books, Zwagerman also published poetry and essays. His first collection of poems was published in 1987 Langs de doofpot. The Awater poetry prize was awarded for his most recent collection Roeshoofd hemelt, which was reprinted four times.

Among his essay works are the Pornotheek Arcadië (2001) and Het vijfde seizoen (2003).

Zwagerman was also active as a columnist for the Dutch newspapers, previously for the de Volkskrant (1998–2002) and since 2001 for NRC Handelsblad.

Additionally he was the host of a Dutch television programme (Zomergasten) and appeared in theater with the Dutch writer Ronald Giphart.

Besides his work as a writer and columnist, he also frequently appeared on Dutch national television, in the program De Wereld Draait Door, broadcast by VARA, where he often held mini-lectures on art-related topics. As an amateur art lover himself, Zwagerman enjoyed transmitting his love for art to a wider audience.

As a writer Zwagerman was connected to two universities; in 1998 Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and 2003 Universiteit Leiden.

He also lectured at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen during the Frans Kellendonk Lecture in 2006. In January 2008, Zwagerman was awarded the Gouden Ganzenveer, for his extraordinary contribution to the Dutch written culture.

Until his divorce, Joost Zwagerman lived with his wife and three children in Amsterdam. In December 2012 he settled in Haarlem.

On 8 September 2015, de Volkskrant confirmed that Zwagerman had committed suicide. He was found dead at his home in Haarlem.

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