Suzanna Jansen

Frankfurter Buchmesse
Guest of Honour 2016

Suzanna Jansen

1964, Amsterdam
Journalist, author, theatre maker.

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.


  Translations   Suzanna Jansen   Balans   WBG

Recently translated into German

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.

HP/De Tijd

Jansen’s personal involvement and dedication to tell her family story make a profound and lasting impression.

De Volkskrant