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Tessa Leuwsha

Tessa Leuwsha - foto Sirano Zalman
Tessa Leuwsha - foto Sirano Zalman

(Netherlands, 1967) is a fiction and non-fiction author, documentarian and critic. In 1995 she emigrated to Surinam as a freelance journalist and in 1997 published Reishandboek Suriname, a cultural travel guide. Her first published short story Voor William (For William) won the incentive prize of the Kwakoe literary awards. In 2005 her novel debut de Parbo-blues appeared, followed in 2009 by the novel Solo, een liefde (Solo, a love) about the ambition of two lovers in colonial Surinam who desire a better life. Her non-fictional Fansi's stilte, een grootmoeder en de slavernij (Fansi's Silence, a Grandmother and Slavery, 2015) tells the life of her grandmother. In Plantage Wildlust (2020), she describes life on a Surinamese plantation in the early 20th century, during the period of contract labour, through various characters. De wilde vaart (Tramp Trade, 2022) recounts, in text and image, a boat journey in which Leuwsha and her husband travel Surinamese waters in search of their own core and the resilience of a people. Leuwsha is cultural attaché of the Dutch Embassy in Paramaribo, and writes columns, articles and reviews for various Surinamese media.

(WN 2023)

Archive available for: Tessa Leuwsha

  • Winternachten 2023

    Verhalen die verbinden (Connecting Stories)

    With: Angel ArunA, Arturo den Hartog, Astrid H. Roemer, Babs Gons, Britney Lindo, Daphne Huisden, Fiep van Bodegom, Holland Baroque, Lucretia Starke, Maria Vlaar, Mariëlle Vavier, Nazrina Rodjan, Rabin Baldewsingh, Sarita Bajnath, Shantie Singh, Tessa Leuwsha

    Dark, forgotten and forbidden pages: it is taking a long time for the colonial history of the Netherlands to penetrate our collective memory. But history has many forms of transmitting lore, of which stories are the most powerful. They are passed from one continent to another, from generation to generation. And then, with great imagination and creativity, they are recorded in literature, music and language. In this way, the stories come to belong to everyone. This event was in Dutch.

    The Winternachten festival afternoon programme Verhalen die verbinden (Connecting Stories) explored Dutch colonial history in our literature, language and music. Prominent Surinamese authors Astrid H. Roemer and Tessa Leuwsha talked in conversations with respectively Maria Vlaar and Fiep van Bodegom about the significance of 150 years of abolition of slavery for them, their country, their relatives and their books. Both published new books in 2023: Astrid H. Roemer wrote the novel DealersDochter (Dealers' Daughter) and Tessa Leuwsha published her De wilde vaart: op zoek naar de veerkracht van Suriname (Tramp trade: the search for the resilience of Surinam).

    Author Babs Gons performed spoken word. Authors Tessa Leuwsha and Daphne Huisden read from their contributions to Dat wij zongen (What we sang), the essay collection in which twenty leading writers of today make a case for a Caribbean author of the past who inspired them personally. Mariëlle Vavier, deputy Mayor and alderman of the City of The Hague for Poverty, Inclusion and Public Health, gave a speech.

    Singer Angel ArunA performed her own work and poems by poet and singer-songwriter Raj Mohan in Sarnámi, the language of people with a Hindustan background in Suriname and The Netherlands. Furthermore soprano Lucretia Starke and countertenor Arturo den Hartog performed, accompanied by six musicians from ensemble Holland Baroque, with their version of Surinamese song Lolo mi boto, among others.

    The talks and performances in Zaal 1 were followed in the theatre foyer by a short post-programme hosted by Sarita Bajnath with contributions and readings by Britney Lindo, writer and spoken word artist, and by Rabin Baldewsingh, writer and, since 2021, National Coordinator against Discrimination, among others.

    Also the (English spoken ) evening programme All the World's Excuses on this Winternachten festival day 16 April, focused on the significance of 150 years abolition of slavery. All the World's Excuses took a wider perspective by inviting authors from various backgrounds to speak about the traces left by slavery, apartheid and colonialism in society, storytelling, language and literature: guests were Caleb Azumah Nelson (UK), David Diop (France), Chika Unigwe (USA), Astrid H. Roemer (Surinam), Neske Beks (Belgium) and Radna Fabias (Netherlands).

    Bookstore De Vries van Stockum was present in the lobby with a stand offering books by participating authors of this programme, among others — including signing opportunities!

    This programme was curated by Shantie Singh, author of a.o. the novels Vervoering (2014) and De kier (2020).

    With day ticket also to evening programme All the World's Excuses
    Verhalen die verbinden was followed on Sunday 16 April as of 19:30h in Theater aan het Spui by the, English spoken, Winternachten festival evening programme All the World's Excuses.
    A reduced price day ticket for both festival programmes on 16 April was available.

  • Cynthia McLeod,Tessa Leuwsha en Jörgen Raymann

    Cynthia McLeod,Tessa Leuwsha and Jörgen Raymann - Suriname: a new history

    With: Cynthia Mc Leod, Jörgen Raymann, Tessa Leuwsha

    Cabaretier, acteur en presentator Jörgen Raymann ging in gesprek met schrijfsters Cynthia McLeod en Tessa Leuwsha over de geschiedschrijving van Suriname die lange tijd een Nederlandse aangelegenheid was. Cynthia McLeod bracht daar als een van de eersten via haar romans verandering in. In onder meer Hoe duur was de Suiker en De Vrije Negerin Elisabeth beschreef ze de geschiedenis van haar land vanuit een Surinaams perspectief. Ook schrijfster Tessa Leuwsha draagt bij aan het opnieuw beschrijven van de geschiedenis, aan de hand van het levensverhaal van haar grootmoeder Fansi. Leuwsha werd geboren in Amsterdam uit een Surinaams-creoolse vader en een Nederlandse moeder en verhuisde naar Suriname. In de roman Fansi's Stilte beschrijft ze onder andere hoe de slavernij, die relatief kort voor de geboorte van Fansi was afgeschaft, doorspeelde in het leven van haar grootmoeder en zelfs in dat van haar kinderen.

    Cynthia McLeod, Tessa Leuwsha en Jörgen Raymann gingen donderdag 14 maart bij B-Unlimited in gesprek in het programma Suriname: een nieuwe geschiedenis.

    Programma samengesteld door Toef Jaeger (Writers Unlimited)
    Boekverkoop in de zaal door De Vries Van Stockum Boeken

  • Winternachten 2011 – Winternacht 2

    Great Expectations for Suriname?

    Tessa Leuwsha and Rihana Jamaludin in some sense share a mirrored life: the one grew up in the Netherlands and went to Suriname, the other grew up in Suriname and left for the Netherlands. Both countries not only play an important role in their lives, but in their work too. Which expectations did they have and do they still have about the Netherlands and Suriname? Or what do they expect from the current Dutch and Surinamese (multicultural) society? And how and to what extent do these expectations play a role in their work? Noray Beyer talks to the writers about Suriname, the Netherlands and literature. Dutch spoken.

  • Antillen/Suriname 2010

    Tori fu dya nanga abrawatra - Stories from here and overseas

    With: Alida Neslo, Annemarie Sanches, Bas Heijne, Bernice Chauly, Iman Humaydan, John Wladimir Elskamp, Paremeru, Reggie Baay, Tessa Leuwsha, Yasmine Allas

    For the fourth time Winternachten collaborates with a literary organisation in Suriname for the festival. This year Surinamese and foreign writers perform in On Stage, the drama school of actress Helen Kamperveen. The programme offers music, readings by writers from Suriname and by authors Bas Heijne, Iman Humaydan, Yasmine Allas en Bernice Chauly, representing Winternachten from Lebanon, Malaysia and The Netherlands. An evening full of prose, poetry, talks and music, around the theme 'A Sense of Belonging'.

    Except for this evening for a general audience, the writers will also visit schools, like the schools in the remote village of Brownsweg (Brokopondo). They will there perform together with the popular Surinamese poet and singer Dorus Vrede.

    A closed writer's conference brings the foreign writers together with Surinamese authors together to talk on writers' issues, like 'Writing local - writing global'.

    Performance in On Stage, Wednesday 21 April, 8 p.m., admission is free. Mgr. Wulfinghstraat #5, Paramaribo

  • Suriname 2006

    Opening programme

    With: Alphons Levens, Ashna Phoelsingh, Celestine Raalte, Diana Ferrus, Elly Purperhart, Els Beerten, Erich Zielinski, Guyz Nextdoor, Ifna Vrede, Ismene Krishnadath, Jit Narain, Manon Uphoff, Norma Bouterse, Robin Anoewarte, Roué Hupsel, Soecy Gummels, Sombra, Tan Lioe Ie, Tessa Leuwsha

    De openingsavond van het internationaal literatuurfestival bestond uit korte optredens van een groot aantal schrijvers uit binnen- en buitenland. De muzikale omlijsting was van de groep Guys Next Door. Ismene Krishnadath, voorzitter van de Schrijversgroep '77, opende het festival.

  • Suriname 2004

    At the table together with writers

    With: Alphons Levens, EKM Dido, Gibi Bacilio, Rappa, Ronald Giphart, Sitok Srengenge, Terry, Tessa Leuwsha

    An informal get together with writers and public. Pull up a chair next to a writer and chat about his or her work and anything else that comes up. With amongst others Rappa, Alphons Levens, Tessa Leuwsha, Gibi Bacilio (Curaçao), EKM Dido (South Africa), Ronald Giphart (The netherlads) and Sitok Srengenge (Indonesia).

  • Winternachten 2004

    Winternachten - Preview

    With: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Antjie Krog, Chirikure Chirikure, Denise Jannah, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Nelleke Noordervliet, Putu Wijaya, Robert Menasse, Syahrial & Grup, Tessa Leuwsha, Tom Gilling, Zakes Mda

    Before Winternachten starts with its major programme, the journalist and literary critic Michaël Zeeman gives his view on the theme of this year's festival: future and ideals. After this, writer Nelleke Noordervliet presents a varied programme with writers, poets and music. Foreign authors present themselves with a short reading, as a preview on their performance in the coming weekend. With writers from Suriname, Saint Martin, South-Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, Austria, the USA and Indonesia, and music by the Sumatran group Syahrial & Grup and jazz singer Denise Jannah.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Surinam, land of my dreams

    After growing up in Surinam the poets Antoine de Kom and Raj Ramdas chose a future in the Netherlands. However the Surinamese author Tessa Leuwsha - her debut novel wil appear in 2004 - grew up in the Netherlands, and chose a future in the country of her parents, Surinam. Three authors discuss the role that the Netherlands and Surinam play in their work. What are the dreams and ideals that are important for them?