Belgian writer Anne Provoost is an essay writer and the author of a series of provocative novels that examine topics as varied as right-wing extremism, sexual abuse, and religion through the eyes of young protagonists. Her novel Falling was made into an English-language feature film by Hans Herbots. She is a winner of the 3-yearly Culture Award (former State Prize) with her novel on grief Looking into the Sun. She is a member of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature and a member of PEN. Her works have been published in 20 different languages. Right now, she is working on the story of her grandmother who, in World War One, lived in the direct line of the German shells in Flanders. The Belgian Government started a vast rescue operation to evacuate thousands of children to 'school colonies' abroad 'for the duration of the war’. Anne’s grandmother was one of them.
Anne Provoost was born in Belgium in 1964 and studied literature at the University of Leuven (Louvain). Her first novel, My Aunt is a Pilot Whale, she wrote while living in Minneapolis, USA. The book was published in Dutch in 1991 and translated into English three years later. My Aunt is a Pilot Whale was awarded with the Book Lion 1991 and the Interprovincial Prize, 1991, two main Belgian Awards. The novel was translated in German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Portuguese and Polish. Back in 1991, it was the first book on sexual child abuse for a young audience produced in the Low Countries.
Her second novel, Falling (1994), in which the pitfalls and allurements of extreme right-wing rhetoric are dealt with extensively, was published in Dutch in 1994. The book received five major awards in Belgium and the Netherlands. It was translated into English by John Nieuwenhuizen in 1997, and was made into an English spoken feature film that came out in the fall of 2001, starring Jill Clayburgh and Alice Krige (YouTube trailer). The book Falling has been translated in English, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Polish and Slovenian, and was selected for the honor list of IBBY.
In 1997 Provoost retold the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast in The Rose and the Swine, transforming the familiar story into a saga of guilt and penance, mercy and justice. This book was again selected for the honor list of IBBY. It received the two main awards for literature in the Low Countries: The Golden Kiss in the Netherlands and the Book Lion in Belgium. It was translated in Danish, Swedish, German, Polish and Norwegian. It received the Luchs-award of Die Zeit in Germany and the Award of Young Readers in Austria (May 2001).
In 2000, Anne Provoost received the Nordrhein-Westfalen Award in Germany for her oeuvre. In December 2000 she received the Lavki Award for Falling.
She again retells a familiar story In the Shadow the Ark, published in Dutch as De arkvaarders in 2001. It recounts the experiences of Noah and the ark, seen from the perspective of a young woman who was not 'chosen' to be on the ship. A reviewer writes: 'It seems that all the delightful stories we read in religious books are brought to question, as well as many other things, as it points out the overlooked part of the Noah's Ark story; the suffering, the deaths, that maybe are not all deserved. This book starts a deep train of thought.' The book is translated and available in Sweden, Germany, Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. In 2006 it was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Provoost also writes essays on literature in general and on literature for children. So here's the Bad News. The Child as Antagonist conveys her thinking about literature for the young. In February 2008 her essay on atheism, Beloved Unbelievers. Atheist Sermon was published.
Her novel Looking into the Sun is the story of a girl living on a farm in Australia. Her mother has bad eyesight and knows she may be going blind. She thinks this is main problem in her life, but then the father falls from his horse and dies. The mother tries to save the farm, but she gradually looses control. Then novel received the the Woman&Culture Award in The Netherlands in 2008 and the 3-yearly Culture Award of Flanders (that is the former State Prize) in 2009.
Provoost was elected a member of The Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature in 2003. She is an ambassador for Hans Christian Andersen 2005 and she is a PEN-member.
In June 2007, she was a candidate for the Senate for the Green Party Groen!.
Anne Provoost lives in Antwerp, Belgium, with her husband and three children. She is currently working on a new novel on the arrival the first Huguenots in 17th century South Africa, and also on the story of her grandmother who, in World War One, lived in the direct line of the German shells in Flanders. The Belgian Government started a vast rescue operation to evacuate thousands of children to 'school colonies' abroad 'for the duration of the war’. Anne’s grandmother was one of them.