P.O. Enquist, The Hour of the Lynx

Per Olov Enquist


P.O. Enquist was born in Västerbotten, Sweden in 1934. His father Elof Enquist sadly passed away when Per Olov was an infant, so he was brought up by his mother Maria Enquist who was a school teacher.

The childhood which Per Olov enjoyed was a pious one and this evangelical community in which he was nurtured in until adulthood has lead to speculation that is has helped with backdrops and directional leads to some of Per Olov Enquist’s works.

In 1955 Per Olov left this safe haven in rural Northern Sweden for culture enlightening in the city of Uppsala. He was enrolled on a literature degree course at the university there and this would be his first steps into the world of writing.

His time within this literary world with like minded students was both healthy and prosperous for his career, as Per Olov gained two literary degrees whilst there between 1960 and 1966, he also started his professional writing career by writing for Svenska Dagbladet.

The triumphs did not end there as Per Olov grew into his his new career at high speeds by completing two novels in these early days.

Per Olov who became fondly known as P.O. Enquist delved into the media and literary arts as a whole, by his new found writing achievements and as a TV debate moderator from 1965-1976.

Per Olov was now becoming highly regarded within this genre, and because of his quick success he was coming to the attention of many professional bodies who were both intrigued and impressed by his work.

P.O. Enquist has gone on to write over 30 literary works for books and stage. He is undoubtedly one of Sweden’s most successful writers who is still very relevant today as when he first started.


Nominerade til Nordiska rådets litteraturpris 2014

In 1969 P.O.Enquist was the 9th person to win Norden’s Nordic Council Literary Prize award. This was in recognition of his book The Legionnaires published in 1968. The book was classed as a documentary novel about the events at the end of World War 2 regarding the extradition of the Baltic soldiers fighting for Germany, they were subsequently sent from Sweden back to the Soviet Union.

This gave us an insight into the thoughts and undertones from P.O. Enquist about political responsibility and social countability, these thoughts would subtly run through his subsequent works.

The Legionnaires was published by the respected and oldest publishing house in Sweden, Nordstedst.

Nordstedst was founded in 1823. This grandeur building and it’s contents is significant in recognising the early talents of an emerging literary genius.

Per Olov Enquist’s career quickly picked up pace when in 1970 he moved to Berlin after receiving a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service.

The University of California was lucky to acquire P.O. Enquist as a visiting professor in 1973, but from 1977 he was officially an independent writer creating some of the most successful and thought provoking books from a Swedish writer of our time.

The recognition did not end there as P.O.Enquist went on to receive the Selma Lagerlof Prize in 1977, The Dobloug Prize in 1988, The Nelly Sachs Prize in 2003 and in 2010 he had the honour of being presented with the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, known to the public as “Little Nobel”.

P.O. Enquist’s place in Nordic Literary history has been continually cemented over the years, not least with the revival of his work, The Hour of the Lynx.

The Hour of the Lynx


The stage play which brought Per Olov much notoriety has been adapted into a film by 3 highly acclaimed Danish writers, Jonas T.Bengtsson, Tobias Lindholm and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen who also directed it. They have all reached highly regarded achievements in their careers, but coming together to adapt The Hour of the Lynx has brought them much earned recognition and praise.

The Hour of the Lynx was shown at the Scandinavian Film Festival this year and was received positively by critics and the public alike.

The film is based around a 45 year old female priest named Helen who is brought in to try and assist with the counselling of a young inmate at a top security psychiatric hospital, named Drengen.

Drengen who has been admitted there since the double murder he committed against an elderly couple has been in counselling sessions with a psychiatrist named Lisbeth. Lisbeth has been running sessions where inmates have been allowed a pet and then monitored in their progress and mental states.

Drengen originally responds well to this initiative but then goes downhill and attempts suicide.

Scared that he may attempt it again and at a loss with what to do Lisbeth calls on help with Helen, and from this the two women start out on a mission to find out what is going on with Drengen and his psychopathic state. This however is really where the story begins, as the two women go deeper into Drengen’s psyche, they discover things which will change them forever. With the feeling of haste and the characters being against a time bomb waiting to go off this really has been adapted for the big screen with its twist turns and anticipation to see what they will uncover and if it will help.

The film has been bought by the UK company Arrow films. This makes them the first non-Scandinavian distributors to pre buy the Danish thriller.

The Head of Acquisitions Tom Stewart at Arrow films bought The Hour of the Lynx purely based on seeing footage of the film at the Gothenburg film Festival.

This has been surmised that a huge factor of appeal for this film to audiences in and outside of Scandinavia is the leading role of the priest being given to critically acclaimed Danish actress Sofie Gråbøl.

Sofie Gråbøl

Sofie Gråbøl born in 1968 is probably one of the most recognised Scandinavian actresses whose work has taken her outside of Denmark and brought her just as much prestige in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Sofie first became an acting sensation in the UK when she appeared as the lead role in The Killing, as Detective Sarah Lund. The series was first broadcast in Denmark in January 2007, this first series was based around the missing persons case of teenager Nana Birk Larsson, subsequently this became a murder investigation. The Nordic Noir fever which took over afterwards has been often accredited to The Killing. The series was cleverly orchestrated so it was not just about the murder, but the fall out which relatives go through and the toll it takes on the officers involved. The writers go into detail with every character and the turns in this series keeps the audience on it’s toes with who the culprit could be. It also brought smaller infatuations which Per Olov Enquist could not have imagined as the Sarah Lund Scandinavian jumper took on a president of its own, and became a top seller in the fashion market outside of the Nordic regions.

Fans were treated to two more series of The Killing, each with highly positive reviews. Sofie Gråbøl stared in all 3 and received a BAFTA award for her efforts but has since confirmed that a fourth series will not be on the cards for her.

We watch as the character Sarah Lund becomes obsessed with her cases and how this in turn affects her relationships with her Mother, son and partner.

The Killing is what catapulted Sofie Gråbøl into the limelight for many British, German and Dutch viewers, but this is just part of her acting journey which has brought and continues to bring much success.

Sofie Gråbøl started on a different path to many actors as she came upon acting by chance and not study. She decided back in 1986 to apply to a role being advertised to portray an artist’s model in a film about Paul Gauguin. Sofie has been quoted as saying that she really saw this role as a summer job when she was 17, but after this she was offered another acting role and so on until she realised that she was making a living as an actress. She has never looked back having performed in all areas from Comedy, small and big screen to Shakespeare. All of which she has been hugely successful in.

Sofie Gråbøl had a very personal battle to go up against with cancer but has come through the other side even more respected as a person. Sofie has since most recently bridged the gap between Denmark and it’s history with Scotland by play Margaret, the Danish princess who was betrothed to King James III when she was 12.

This story tells the tale quite unknown to the general public with regards to the historic link between the two nations. Princess Margaret is the reason that the Orkney and Shetland islands are no longer part of Scandinavia.

This historic fact has been done justice as told by the acting of Sofie Gråbøl who also has portrayed her character in the Hour of the Lynx with style and a professionalism that Per Olov Enquist is no doubt proud of all these years later after he sat down to pen his stage play.

The most telling gift to P.O Enquist is actually a gift from him because in September 2004 on his 70th birthday an award was set up in his honour bestowed upon him by Nordstedst. The PO Enquist Literary award comes with a prize of €5000 to the Nordic author who has potential to reach the international audiences but has not yet reached that mile stone.

Photo credit: Bengt Nyman