Netherlands mourns death of writer Joost Zwagerman, 51

Joost Wagerman (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Dr. Jost Hindersmann Krimidoedel)Joost Wagerman (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Dr. Jost Hindersmann Krimidoedel)

Dutch writer, poet and essayist Joost Zwagerman has committed suicide in his home town of Haarlem after a long fight with depression. He was 51 years old.

Zwagerman's publisher De Arbeiderspers made this announcement on Tuesday night, the Volkskrant reports. Joost Zwagerman was one of the most popular Dutch writers of his generation. His work appears in translation in France, Germany, Japan, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In 2008 he received the Golden Quill for his complete oeuvre. He first debuted with the novel De Houdgreep in 1986. He first gained a large readership with his novel Gimmick! in 1989.

He was also known as a columnist and wrote for, among others, the Volkskrant, NRC Handelsblad and Vrij Nederland. A large audience knew him for his appearances on De Wereld Draait Door, where he talked about art.

Joost Zwagerman was divorced and father of three children. He first started struggling with depression after his divorce. In an interview with the Volkskrant in 2012, he called suicide a "comforting thought: you can always get out".

His latest book, a collection of essays on beauty and unease in art, called De stilte van het licht", appeared on Tuesday, the day of his suicide. In the foreword he wrote: "After you die you do not stay behind only in the memories of your loved ones, but also in the texture and the DNA of artworks that were precious to you. In life art offers the sensation to disappear from yourself; after your death you will never be completely gone."