When grown-ups used to ask me where I came from I always said: ‘Dad’s from The Hague and mum’s from The Paramariboom, that is a tree on the other side of the sea and in that tree black people grow, like mum or Ruud Gullit!’

Twenty-nine year old writer Johannes is Dutch. The fact that he has mixed blood never really struck him. As a young kid he flew around half the world, but his mum’s Surinam he skipped as a rule.  All this changes after a rapid succession of events. He receives a stack of old poems by his deceased granddad n soon after his is invited to deliver a political speech during the presidential elections in Surinam.  It’s his first time on his mother’s home turf.  He is astonished to find that this place evokes a lot more recognition than he’d ever thought possible.  Through his granddad’s poems and the preamble to the speech he meets a lot of relatives and soul mates that will change his life for good.

Hotel Torarica is a hilarious, but also disarming road trip through Paramaribo and a search for origin, identity and hope. For what does where you come from mean for where you are going?


Johan Fretz (1985), a former student at the Amsterdam School for Performing Arts, became an instant celebrity when he took the stage at a rally in The Hague against the demise of the Dutch cultural system. His heartfelt speech was turned into his first essay, Heart for Art. As a columnist and essayist he contributed to all the major magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands. In 2012 he published his first novel, 2025


So I touch down in Paramaribo.  Why it took me twenty-nine years to finally come here I don’t remember.  It had all been too easy.  I had no business here: I was mixed, half, just Dutch and wanted to be just that.  And still the black pilot near the exit of the plane says: ‘Welcome home kid.’

I do not correct him; I nod and descend the stairs. I don’t think I have ever seen a black pilot before. My feet touch the ground.  That’s one small step for a man and… The End. It’s as if all sounds are melted by the heat, it’s that quiet.  The dark, clear sky hangs over us like a mosquito net.  I want to feel all kinds of things, especially belonging here, but I just feel that I want to feel I am from here.

In front of me, the other passengers: they walk across the tarmac to the arrival hall. Most of them talk, but their voices are not audible. Behind me is nobody, I am the last one out. Remarkably enough there were more people like me on this flight, who stayed in their seats till the final moment. It made me think of an old Surinam friend who laughed in my face when I rang to tell him I was going to be 5 minutes late: ‘Stop it already and switch of that witmang in yourself!’


JOHAN FRETZ - 2025 (2013)


My name is Johannes Daniël Christophorus Fretz. I’m the son of Jan Fretz, a white male from the Druivenstraat in The Hague, and Virginia Brouwn, a Surinam female who was born in Paramaribo when it was still a Dutch colony.

The date is July 6, 2025. It’s election day. In 12 hours I will know if I have become the new president of the Netherlands.

2025 is a bold, exhilarating debut novel about a young man who contemplates reaching for the sky in order to change the world.


‘I urge all high schools to remove Herman Brusselmans and Pieter Aspe from the required reading lists and replace them with 2025 by Johan Fretz. Why? Because I sincerely hope you will be so aggravated by how sick the political world has become that you can no longer remain on the sidelines.' De Standaard der Letteren






Lebowski Publishers / Oscar van Gelderen


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