foto: Sirano Zalman
TESSA LEUWSHA (Amsterdam, 1967) lives in Suriname, South-America, since 1996 and is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Besides that she works as cultural attaché for the embassy of the Netherlands in Paramaribo. She studied Tourism Management and English in her town of birth Amsterdam.
She wrote the travel book Reishandboek Suriname (Elmar), to be published in several revised editions from 1997.
In 2002 she was awarded the incentive award as part of the Kwakoe Literature Prize for her story For William. Other stories appeared in the anthologies Waarover we niet moeten praten (2007) and Voor mij ben jij hier (2010).
Her debut novel, de Parbo-blues (Augustus, Amsterdam-Antwerpen, 2005), a fictionalized biography of her father’s youth in Suriname and life as an immigrant in the Netherlands was well received and nominated for the Dutch Women & Culture Award in 2006 and the Debutant Award 2006.
Tessa Leuwsha’s second novel Solo, een liefde, (Augustus, 2009), about ambition in colonial Suriname and the longing for a better life, was reviewed positively by distinguished media in the Netherlands, such as NRC Handelsblad, the VPRO gids and HP/de Tijd. The novel was nominated for the Black Magic Woman Literature Award 2009.
Also her non-fiction work Fansi's stilte, a grandmother and slavery (Atlas Contact, 2015), received praise both in the Netherlands as in Suriname. The book has been reprinted several times and was shortlisted for the Inktaap Literature Prize 2017.
Tessa Leuwsha has written columns, articles and book reviews for various media in the Netherlands and Suriname and has participated in several international literary festivals, including the Winternachten festival and Writers Unlimited in The Hague, and the festivals Werelden in ontmoeting and Boekids in Paramaribo. She gives lectures on request in both countries.
In 2018 she made her first long documentary Frits de Gids (director, scenario) focusing on changing man-woman relationships in a traditional Marroon village in the interior of Suriname. The documentary premiered in Paramaribo and after that was shown in several art house cinemas in the Netherlands. See link for trailer.
The Foundation High Dive Creation of which Tessa Leuwsha is chairperson promotes literature among young people in Suriname. In the interior of Suriname, the village Dan, the foundation, together with the Danpaati River Lodge, has realized a community center for children, with books, instruments and audiovisual material.
In 2020 Plantage Wildlust a new novel by Tessa Leuwsha will be published. In the book, in which she explores life on a plantation in Suriname at the beginning of the twentieth century when indentured labor was introduced, she delivers through different characters a gripping story beyond black and white hatred.
Community center in the village Dan, Upper Suriname region, where Tessa Leuwsha, through the foundation High Dive Creation of which she is chairperson, has installed a library for children and adults.