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Seaweed (Wieren)



Original Language: Dutch | 176 pp. | May 2018

2 Seas Represents: World Excl Dutch & German.

Rights sold: Germany (Matthes & Seitz)

German translation available soon.

Longlisted for the Jan Wolkers Prijs


Life on earth in a nutshell: we breathe in what seaweed breathes out. Seaweed are the biggest producers of oxygen in the world.

But they are the cause of much more. When Henri Matisse was confined to his sickbed, he started cutting ‘curlicues of seaweed’, breaking new ground for a completely new artistic road. Why are film pioneers of the early twentieth century so fascinated by the movement of seaweed? Why does it smell so much, but is it, in spite of that, used for numerous beauty products? What does the arrival of Napoleon have to do with the disappearance of the kelp industry?

Zwamborn’s book depicts the splendour of the Japanese ink seaweed in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum archives and the azure seaweed photographs of photographer Anna Atkins, it shows how seaweed forgery let to the invention of copyright laws, and tells about the great promise of seaweed as a vegetable and as a fuel.

In an entertaining, poetic and astonishing cultural history of the most sensual family of water plants, Miek Zwamborn points out all of the hidden aspects of these elegant inhabitants of the sea. Seaweed is a useful handbook filled with green, red, brown en blue weeds, immortalized in painting, praised in literature, emerged in fashion and fabric designs, prepared in tasty and nutritious dishes, supplemented with wholesome seaweed recipes from various continents, and fifty illustrations in full colour, some of which are made by the author.

Miek Zwamborn (1974) is a poet, writer, translator and artist. Earlier work of hers was nominated for the longlist of the AKO Literatuurprijs (the novel Oploper), and for the longlist of the Libris Literatuur Prijs (Vallend hout and De duimsprong). Seaweed is currently being translated into German and will be published in the Naturkunden-series (edited by Judith Schalanksy) of Matthes & Seitz publishing company.