Author

Anna Enquist

Anna Enquist (b. 1945) is one of the most popular writers in the Netherlands. She trained in piano at the academy of music in The Hague and at the same time studied psychology in Leiden. When she made her debut as a poet in 1991 with the collection Soldatenliederen (Soldiers’ Songs), for which she was awarded the C. Buddingh Prize, she was working as a psychoanalyst. Since then she has devoted much of her time to writing. With her first two novels, Het meesterstuk (The Masterpiece, 1995) and Het geheim (The Secret, 1997), psychological novels in which classical music is central, Enquist quickly reached a broad readership. In 2002 she wrote the Book Week Gift, De ijsdragers (The Ice Carriers), and in 2005 she published the major historical novel De thuiskomst (The Homecoming), which focuses on James Cook’s wife Elizabeth Batts. For the French translation of this novel, she received the Prix du Livre Corderie Royale-Hermione. ‘Enquist understands emotion’ is how one critic has described the appeal of her work.

The Poetry of Anna Enquist

(De Arbeiderspers, )

In an interview Enquist herself made a link between her psychoanalytical work and her poetry. In both cases, explained the poet, it is a question of finding a balance between analysis and feeling. The poet is after the bilingualism between technical and emotional language. The enormous response provoked by her work and the prizes she has received for it testify to her having succeeded in striking a balance between the two. Enquist writes lucid poems, about growing older, motherhood, seeing time slipping through your fingers and the helplessness of not being able to do anything about it. However, the tone of her poetry is fierce and dogged.

Read more
The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece

(De Arbeiderspers, 1994, 292 pages)

Anna Enquist has an innate talent for telling stories; they flow as naturally and spontaneously as a mountain stream. Her refined psychological insights clothe her characters in flesh and blood, and her musicality is remarkable, with never a false note.

Read more
The Secret

The Secret

(De Arbeiderspers, 1997, 203 pages)

Music as a restful haven – this is the theme we encounter in both Anna Enquist’s poetry and in her novels. Her first novel, Het meesterstuk (The Masterpiece), followed the storyline of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and her second novel, Het geheim (The Secret), is composed and conducted like a piece of music. Three storylines run through the book like themes in a composition, sometimes merging, sometimes overlapping, and sometimes going in completely different directions: the story of Wanda, the story of her past and the story of Bouw, the man she left.

Read more
The Homecoming

The Homecoming

(De Arbeiderspers, 2005, 416 pages)

With The Homecoming, a historical novel, Anna Enquist has changed course. Elizabeth Batts, the main character, is married to James Cook, the eighteenth-century explorer who during his voyages charted large parts of the world. During his third venture to Hawaii, he was murdered by the local populace for circumstances that have never been explained.

Read more
Counterpoint

Counterpoint

(De Arbeiderspers, 2008, 204 pages)

A woman practises Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It is clear from the start that she is doing so out of a need for a sedation; she wants nothing more than to be ‘a slave of the playing body’. She also loves to recall the last time she rehearsed this piece of music, thirty years before. More specifically she wants to feel her daughter’s presence again, who as a child exclaimed during a piano performance in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, ‘Mama, that’s our song!’

Read more
Quartet

Quartet

(De Arbeiderspers, 2014, 269 pages)

In her latest novel, Anna Enquist delivers her own unique take on thrillers. While incorporating her recurring themes such as classical music and the loss of loved ones, she chips away at the barrier that separates the well-behaved cultural elite from the harshness of reality until a cruel denouement is the only possible outcome.

Read more

Translations