Provoost, Anne 1964–

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Provoost, Anne 1964–

PERSONAL: Born 1964, in Belgium; married; children: three. Education: Attended University of Louvain.

ADDRESSES: Home—Antwerp, Belgium. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Scholastic, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

CAREER: Essayist and children's novelist, 1991–.

MEMBER: Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature.

AWARDS, HONORS: Book Lion Prize, Flemish Provinces Award for Best Youth Novel, both 1991, both for My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale; Libris Woutertje Pieterse Award, Interprovincial Prize for Children's and Youth Literature, Book Lion Award, Golden Owl Award, Silver Pen Award, White Ravens selection, all 1995, and IBBY honor list, and Lavki Award, 2000, all for Falling; Golden Kiss Award, CPNB, Netherlands, and Book Lion Award, both 1998, Luchs Award, Die Zeit, Germany, 2000, Award of Young Readers, Austria, 2001, IBBY honor list, all for The Rose and the Swine; Golden Kiss Award, CPNB, Netherlands, and Book Club Award, House of the Book, both 2002, both for In the Shadow of the Ark.



My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale, translated by Ria Bleumer, Women's Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

Vallen, Houtekiet (Antwerp, Belgium), 1995, translation by John Nieuwenhuizen published as Falling, Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

De roos en het zwijn (title means "The Rose and the Swine"), Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1998.

De arkvaarders, Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2001, translation by John Nieuwenhuizen published as In the Shadow of the Ark, Scholastic/A. A. Levine Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Provoost's books have been translated into eleven languages, including English.


Also contributor of short stories to periodicals.

ADAPTATIONS: Falling was adapted for theater and also for a feature film in 2001, starring Jill Clayburgh; In the Shadow of the Ark was adapted for audiobook by Blackstone Audio.

SIDELIGHTS: Born in Flemish Belgium, Anne Provoost is a Dutch-language novelist whose books for both young adults and adults have received international acclaim. Her second novel, Falling, was adapted for the feature film of the same name, starring Jill Clayburgh. Provoost, who resides in Antwerp, Belgium, has written four novels, three of which have been translated into English.

Provoost's first novel, My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale, was written while the author was living in the United States; it was published in Dutch in 1991, and translated into English in 1994. Set on Cape Cod, the novel deals with incest. Anna, the young narrator, is not necessarily overjoyed when she finds out that her cousin Tara and her parents are coming to the Cape from Cleveland, and are renting the nearby house that up to now has been haunted by the mermaid Goody Hallett. Tara is troubled, and Anna cannot understand the problem at first. Then when Tara's mother commits suicide, it becomes apparent that Tara is being sexually abused by her father. Ultimately through Anna's intercession and that of her parents, as well as a marine biologist who is attempting to rescue beached pilot whales, Tara is able to get help. Though a reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that Provoost "tackles a weighty issue … with limited success," Booklist critic Meri Monks was more positive in her evaluation. For Monks My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale is "well-written" and "sensitive." Monks further noted that Provoost "handles the incest theme well, but also skillfully portrays the complex nature of familial relationships." My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale won Belgium's Book Lion prize.

Provoost's second novel, Falling, was published in Dutch in 1994 and was translated into English for Australian publication in 1997. This young-adult novel features teenage Lucas who learns of his grandfather's infamous past after the man's death. It is said that the grandfather betrayed Jews in hiding in World War II. At the same time, Lucas becomes romantically involved with Caitlin, and is pulled into right-wing rhetoric disparaging immigrants and refugees. The book again won major international awards and, when adapted for a film, it also gained Provoost an international reputation.

With In the Shadow of the Ark, Provoost achieved major U.S. publication. The book recounts the biblical tale of Noah and the ark as viewed from the perspective of a teenage girl who was not initially chosen as one of the passengers. Re Jana is darker-skinned than Noah's family, but falls in love with Noah's son, Ham. She watches, with the rest of her family, as the family of Noah construct their huge ship, wondering the purpose. Then the rains come and Re Jana wins a place on the ark because of her attachment to Ham. However, the voyage into a new world is enough to test the strongest of young women.

Reviewing Provoost's biblical tale, a critic for Kirkus Reviews called In the Shadow of the Ark, a "beautiful, solemn, heavy retelling," as well as a "YA/adult crossover." In fact, the American paperback version, "a bit of a bodice-ripper," as Nora Krug noted in the New York Times Book Review, was marketed as an adult title. Some critics found the story wanting. Writing in School Library Journal, Kelly Berner Richards complained that the book's "pacing is slow, the characters are simplistic and undeveloped, and the prose is uneven and wordy." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly also noted that the "characters unfortunately remain sketchily outlined rather than fully formed." However, Krug felt that In the Shadow of the Ark was a "powerful story" with a "sweeping narrative." Booklist critic Ilene Cooper similarly found Provoost's novel "exquisitely detailed and intelligently written" and a "YA novel only in the broadest sense."



Booklist, March 1, 1995, Meri Monks, review of My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale, p. 1235; June 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 1721; October 10, 2004, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 345.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2004, Elizabeth Bush, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 96.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2004, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 635.

New York Times Book Review, September 19, 2004, Nora Krug, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, December 19, 1994, review of My Aunt Is a Pilot Whale, p. 55; October 25, 2004, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 49.

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Kelly Berner Richards, review of In the Shadow of the Ark, p. 193.


Anne Provoost Home Page, (February 25, 2005).