Books by Josha Zwaan

  • Wildfire

    Josha Zwaan

    | Fiction | This book has 248 pages

    February 2015


    * Dutch pdf available *

    At first glance, Marthe, Barend and their three children look like a very normal family. But Marthe’s life is dominated by fears and delusions. Barend looks helplessly on, and the children now worry more about their mother than she does about them. During the holiday that was meant to bring them all closer together, the situation escalates, and Barend takes off with the children. Marthe suffers a psychosis and wanders through Amsterdam for weeks. Very cautiously, she learns to accept herself, sparking a glimmer of self-confidence. But does she still belong in the life of her family?

    With her beautiful, poetic style, Josha Zwaan manages to convey strong emotions. Wildfire is a story about love, madness and desire. But it is also an attempt to break the taboo of living with a psychological disorder. The novel shows that even under such difficult circumstances, life is still worth living.


    ‘With appealing themes and a clear, albeit style, Zwaan has secured a
    large readership.’ – TROUW

    ‘Beautifully understated.’ – *** DE LIMBURGER

    ‘Her prose is reminiscent of literature from the last century.’ – OPZIJ


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  • Sea Sparkle

    Josha Zwaan

    | Fiction | This book has 349 pages

    February 2013

    * Dutch pdf available *

    New Zealand, 1967 in the port city of Wellington, young Freya boards the passenger ship Achille Lauro with her husband Herman and their son Volkert. They’re about to leave New Zealand, the country where the couple intended to build a new life after Dutch Freya answered Herman’s personal ad.

    In five weeks’ time they will be back in the Netherlands, where Freya is bound to forget her lover. Or so Herman hopes. But during the journey, which almost ends in tragedy due to the imminent closure of the Suez Canal, Herman realises that he has lost Freya for good. He decides to return to New Zealand, taking his young son with him.

    But life with her lover is not what Freya had hoped for. When the relationship breaks down, she yearns for ‘the Big Blue Liner’ where she last spent time with her son. The ship also reawakens her memories of her childhood in Indonesia. Freya embarks once more, making journey after journey, during which we gradually learn why she failed to live the spectacular, compelling life she dreamt of in her youth.


    Josha Zwaan was born in 1963 to Dutch immigrants in New Zealand. In 1967 she was a passenger on the Achille Lauro herself, accompanying her parents on their way back to the Netherlands.

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  • Parnassia

    Josha Zwaan

    | Fiction | This book has 304 pages

    October 2010

    Rights sold: Bloomsbury Berlin (Germany)

    * German Translation available *

    In 1942 the persecution of Jews is becoming increasingly severe also in the Netherlands. Little Rivka is lodged by her parents with a childless minister and his wife in Zeeland, who take care of her lovingly. Rivka becomes Anneke and the story goes her parents were killed in the bombing of Rotterdam. Gradually she starts to feel increasingly at home with her new ‘mum and dad’.

    When her father and little brother turn up on the doorstep to collect Rivka after the liberation, she no longer recognises them and chooses a new life as Anneke. As an adult she falls head over heels in love with Joost, who later turns out to have a Jewish background just like her. The birth of their own children unleashes a seemingly unending torrent of repressed feelings and memories in both Joost and Anneke. While Joost increasingly begins to turn to the Jewish faith, Anneke distances herself from him and her family. She proves unable to love her children and build a life with others.

    Press on Parnassia:
    ‘Cleverly written and heartbreaking portrait.’ – Esta

    ‘This disconcerting and intriguing novel goes beyond the theme of war. Praise for the debutant.’– Reformatorisch Dagblad

    ‘Disconcerts and captivates until the end.’ – Boekblad

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