Enne Koens writes plays, songs, and books for all ages, but especially for children.
Her first collection of short stories for adults, Stamina, was published in January 2020 and received rave reviews.
Nevertheless, most people know Enne from one of her many children’s books – I am Vincent and I am not afraid (Ik ben Vincent en ik ben niet bang) for instance. A touching story about bullying and friendship, told in a lighthearted way. Or That summer with Jente (Die zomer met Jente), which recently received a prestigieus Dutch children’s literature award.
Enne has written many more, like Hotel Bonbien, about Siri and her bonkers family and Sammie and grandpa (Sammie en opa), which tells the story of the fierce friendship between Sammie and his adventurous, imaginative grandfather.
Besides books, Enne writes (musical) theatre for adults and children. She has written for companies like Ausdauer, Maas, Toneelmakerij, Gasthuis and Artemis. And during two summers Enne and her musical theatre group Het Paleis voor Volksvlijt filled tent Studio 7 at the Dutch theatre festival De Parade. In 2004, she won a Dutch playwright award (Hollandse Nieuwe Toneelschrijfprijs) for her play Skills.
In the coming year, Enne will publish two more books: A small, green jelly planet (Een kleine, groene puddingplaneet, 6+, for children to read themselves) and You can see everything from here (Vanaf hier kun je alles zien, 8+ – will be released on May 30).
In A small, green jelly planet, Mo has an enormous adventure when his parents are at a parent-teacher meeting.
In You can see the whole world from here, Dena finds a letter from someone who misses someone very much. Dena is determined to deliver the letter to the right person. That turns out to be more difficult than she thinks, and so she asks her clever friend Vito and the boy next door, Kevin, to help her. And without realising it, Dena is in search of that one missing link in her own life… There are clues everywhere, and each answer leads to more questions. And in the end, everything comes together in the mystery of her ancestry.
The jury of this important German award selected I am Vincent and I am not afraid as one of the six best children’s books in the world in 2020. From the jury report: `Enne Koens consistently writes from Vincent’s perspective, thereby very impressively visualising the mechanisms of bullying.’ The winner will be announced on the 16th of October.
On the 28th of August the Griffel Jury announced that they had awarded That summer with Jente a Vlag and Wimpel. ‘Koens subtly shows Marie’s internal conflict through observations and side remarks or little lies, so you can really tell how she, in that sultry sunshine, feels trapped in something you could call a friendship.’
In January 2020, Stamina was published, a collection of short stories for adults. About Alma who is dying, Klaas who secretly dances when his girlfriend isn’t home, and a disoriented elderly man who keeps looking for coffee, to no avail: these are only a few of the colourful characters that grace this collection with their presence. The subtly interwoven stories in Stamina are about people who want to connect with each other, but are unable to. About the intense hatred that can dominate a long-term relationship. About losing mothers, children and love. About fear. And about bravely living on against the odds: stamina.
STAMINA is part of a fabulous series of short stories by publishing house Podium (in which previously Keret, Nors, Harstad, Blees, Wuck and Capote were published).
‘Tragic-comical descriptions that remind one of the books by Griet Op de Beeck.’ HEBBAN
‘In Stamina, a thematically strong collection of stories, the characters stumble their way through life (…). NRC
Against her will, Marie moves to a new neighbourhood. She leaves Zoë behind, but befriends a new girl on her first day in the polder: Jente. A summer ensues where they swim daily, have sleepovers, spy on boys, grow up. With Jente, the days are full of adventure, but sometimes she suddenly gets angry, and at times even mean. As the summer goes on, doubt starts to niggle. Should you always be able to trust each other, like Marie trusted Zoë, or can a friendship be completely different as well?
‘Koens shows a different talent here: the reader feels how things are getting out of hand, the smut, the scratches, the nettle stings, the bruises and the danger of stomping through marshy grassland, sneaking out at night and walking around high buildings without railings.’ Volkskrant
‘That summer with Jente is a sweltering and atmospheric book with which Koens transfers her status of promising to an established author of psychological children’s books.’ Jaapleest.nl
School is like a daily survival trip for Vincent: you never know which disaster to expect and you better be well prepared. So, he knows the SAS Survival Handbook by heart. And he always carries a tin with handy survival gear. But the worst is yet to come: the school camp. He still has seven days to prepare. But then a new girl joins his class. And that changes everything…
Nominated for the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis.
‘I am Vincent and I am not afraid is a book that offers comfort to every child that is being bullied.’ Leesfeest
Bullying is a common theme in children’s literature, but rarely has it been described as intensely and oppressingly as in Enne Koens’ I am Vincent and I am not afraid. Jaapleest.nl
Siri is ten years old and lives in Hotel Bonbien along the N19 in France. Bonbien is a hotel for travellers. People who want to move on, as Siri’s father puts it. Usually they only have a cup of coffee, or use the loo. Sometimes they stay for a night. Siri thinks it is the most beautiful place on earth and never wants to leave. But her parents are arguing more and more. She is afraid they might get a divorce and that they’ll have to sell the hotel. Only a miracle can save them. And that miracle arrives, but in a very different shape than Siri had imagined…
Enne Koens wrote a funny and touching story about Siri and her bonkers family, it was nominated for the Boekenleeuw in Belgium.
‘After the wonderful “Sammie and granddad”, Enne Koens delights again with “Hotel Bonbien”. An accessible, warm-blooded book (…) full of humor, an original adventure and depth.’ Trouw
‘Some books you close shut with a smile that lingers.’ Jaapleest.nl
Sam’s granddad used to be a truck driver and before that a sailor and he always had the most amazing and dirtiest of adventures. When Sam asks if everything really happened, granddad says: `True or not true is for boring people, not us!’ But some things Sam just really wants to know. What happens to you when you die? How do we know which colours dinosaurs were? Where does the wind start? And will granddad get better when he ends up in hospital?
Awarded the Vlag en Wimpel 2013.
‘Enne Koens is cooler than Kuijer and Kuyper and has modernised the genre. (…) Enne Koens temporarily makes you forget about the grandmasters.’ De Volkskrant
‘Sammie and grandpa has a relaxed writing style, the natural dialogue flows, and there is a pleasant kind of crazy to the story.’ Trouw
Berre is eight when her parents get divorced. Her mother has lost herself and needs time to refind herself. This news comes as a shock to Berre, who loves her father to bits. In the years after the divorce, her mother seems to become increasingly more unhinged. She takes her daughters to live in a women’s commune, brings exorcists to the house and falls in love with the wrong men. Berre’s anger grows with the years. She leaves home on the day of her last school exam and finds a room in the city where she will start uni after the summer. She wants to put her past behind her once and for all.
Awarded the Jonge Jury debut prize.
Koens writes dreamy, naive prose with the occasional, unexpectedly painful observation. She evokes a dark atmosphere of neglect that is hard to shake. Volkskrant
The best children’s books of 2011: ‘It’s rare that a Dutch young adult debut has such technical craftsmanship, with such a composed style.’ Vrij Nederland
When it transpires that Michel is no longer allowed to see his two-year old daughter, he panics. He wants to see Josja grow up. That same day, he collects her from her nursery and flees across Europe, away from her mother Liesbeth. On their journey, getting used to being together with Josja, he tries to interpret the cracks in his relationship with Liesbeth. In the meantime, Liesbeth tries everything she can to find Michel and Josja. Will she ever see her daughter again?
‘Koens handles the heavy subject matter with surprising humanity and gives equal space to both parents. The book in general comes across as balanced. Koes writes with an admirable steadiness and stays on topic.’ De Groene Amsterdammer
‘Despite it being a debut, the novel comes across as grown-up. Few things are scarier than the fear of a mother whose child has disappeared. And few have described that fear this poignantly.’ AD/UN
A number of Enne’s plays have been published by Theaterboek. Like her novels, Enne’s plays are about family and relationships, a stream of loving but painful scenes, for laughing out loud and shedding a tear. Enne shows human relationships on the razor’s edge, in a style that is so wholly hers: bare and tender, poetical and precise. For children and adults and anyone in between.
Various texts are available on www.theaterboek.nl.
This coming season, Enne will collaborate on the FUTURE CITIZENS project by Bright Richards with New Dutch Connections. She recorded stories from people who came to the Netherlands from elsewhere and created a place of their own here. Stories that provide hope and solace to those who are currently on that path. They speak of the intense experiences of how to start from zero in a new country and the toll it takes to shake off the role of being a stranger.
More info on the Future Citizens website (in Dutch)
Enne teaches at Buitenkunst, the Schrijversvakschool, the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, and she teaches children who need a bit of help with the Dutch language via De Schoolschrijver. Her classes are fun, a curious investigation into language, story and inspiration.
During lockdown, Enne opened her writing cafe. It was an overwhelming success, so she continued – every Friday at 9.30am CET. Right now, the writing cafe is on hold.more info
Once a month, you could join us in our De Utrechtse Kinderboekenwinkel living room for an inspiring writing class. About, for instance: seeking inspiration, story perspective, thinking of a good plot.
For more information or to register, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 (0)30 2322057. The costs are € 15,- per class.
More info on the website of the ‘Utrechtse Kinderboekwinkel‘ (in Dutch)
More info on the website of the ‘Utrechtse Kinderboekwinkel‘ (in Dutch)