Suzanna Jansen went to Moscow after completing her studies in Dance and Communication. There she worked as a researcher and correspondent. Back in the Netherlands, she began writing an article about an infamous re-education experiment for poor families. In fact it was her own family history meeting journalism, and the project resulted in the bestseller Het Pauperparadijs [The Paupers’ Paradise], which has already been reprinted 56 times in the Netherlands. The German edition is being presented in 2016. Jansen is currently adapting her book for the stage. A collection of journalistic stories about Moscow was published in 2010 under the title De pronkspiegel [The Ornate Mirror], followed a year later by De hemel is goud, biografie van een race [Heaven is golden, biography of a race], about the historic Paris to Madrid car rally of 1903.
The Paupers’ Paradise
Translated by Andrea Prins
WBG / Konrad Theiss, 2016
Originaltitel: Het pauperparadijs (Balans, 2008)
Amsterdam, during the Great depression: Rosa Dingemans, mother of a family struck by alcoholism and debt, tries to maintain her dignity. She derives her pride from a rumour that she was of important descent. But is this truth or myth?
In her quest for the facts, her granddaughter, the author, comes across a hidden history: the re-educational experiments in the town of Veenhuizen, in the northeast of The Netherlands, to which her ancestors were exposed. What started as a plan to elevate the lower class, soon changed into a basket trap.
Suzanna Jansen follows five generations of her family. From the beggars colony Veenhuizen to the living-under-supervision in the twentieth century. Gradually she discovers how campaigns to relieve and re-educate the poor have left a lasting mark on the lives of millions.
A great book.
OVT (radio programme)
Beautiful, gripping story.
Jansen’s personal involvement and dedication to tell her family story make a profound and lasting impression.