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Speech by Amanda Lind at the 2019 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award ceremony
Stockholm, 27 May 2019.
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Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Bart Moeyaert,
“I feel sorry for all the children who don’t live in Noisy Village”. These are the words of Anna, one of the inhabitants of Astrid Lindgren’s famous Noisy Village – Bullerbyn. I think that, compared to many other places one could have grown up in, Noisy Village is not really that noisy. Rather, it symbolises harmony and simplicity in many minds.
I don’t think that any of us had a childhood that exactly matches what was depicted in Astrid Lindgren’s books about Noisy Village. And there are children who can barely recognise themselves in this idyllic and peaceful village. Children, with their vivid imagination, have no problems to imagine themselves in another context – on a pirate ship, in a magic forest or – why not? – living in Noisy Village.
But sometimes, you might actually need to be able to recognise yourself. You might need a book to show you that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one growing up in a family that doesn’t look like a classical fairy-tale family. It is not just you who is witnessing fights over how the rent for next month should be paid. You’re not alone having to comfort your own mother, when she doesn’t want to get up in the morning.
There are as many childhoods as there are people who have ever lived. Actually, if we include all daydreams, all fears and all wishful thinking, there are even more childhoods.
Bart Moeyaert, you have showed us so many different childhoods. They are intriguing, sometimes strange, but sometimes also strangely familiar. Some of us can relate to parts of some of them, others can relate to other parts. Just like Astrid Lindgren, you see the child – or the young adult – in all its facets. You see the inner and the outer contradictions, conflicts and also the reconciliation. The same way you help the young reader to see him- or herself, you help us grown-ups to see the different realities of the next generation.
The realities that you let us see are a lot of things – they are violent, passionate, boring, funny, embarrassing and generous. But they are not black and white. Growing up is not always easy, but the sympathy and solidarity we see between friends, between brother and sister, or between the writer and his characters, make it easier to face the different worlds out there.
The children who don’t live in Noisy Village don’t need our pity – they need our respect and attention, our empathy and imagination. And we all need writers like Bart Moeyaert. Therefore, I am very happy to warmly congratulate you, on behalf of the Swedish Government, on the award of the world’s most distinguished prize for children’s and young adult literature. Thank you Bart, for showing us all the noisy villages, towns, families and friends – and all the noisy childhoods – that could be out there.