Flemish author Bart Moeyaert wins major children’s book prize

Stockholm: Flemish author Bart Moeyaert was named on Tuesday winner of the 2019 Astrid Lindgren prize, one of the most lucrative for writers of children’s literature.
“Moeyaert’s condensed and musical language vibrates with suppressed emotions and unspoken desires,” the jury said.
It also cited how Moeyaert “prefers to show us life in all its many facets. He treats existential questions in a realistic, poetic and thought-provoking way.”
A total of 246 candidates from 64 countries were nominated for this year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
“I love you! oh, wonderful,” he said when Boel Westin, head of the 12-strong jury, reached him with the news.
The 54-year-old was born in Bruges, Belgium and now lives in Antwerp. He made his debut in 1983 with Duet met valse noten (Off-Key Duet).
After high school, he studied German and history in Brussels.
His body of work includes about 50 titles ranging from picture books to novels and poetry. Several of his books have been translated.
Among his best-known books are Blote handen (Bare Hands) that takes place on an eventful New Year’s Eve and describes a young boy’s confused feelings, Het is de liefde die we niet begrijpen (It’s Love We Don’t Understand) about a family falling apart as seen by a 15-year-old girl,
and the autobiographical Broere (Brothers).
The book, about growing up as the youngest of seven brothers, has also been adapted for the stage.
His latest novel, Tegenwoordig heet iedereen Sorry (Everybody’s Sorry Nowadays) was published in October 2018.
Moeyaert also writes scripts for the stage and television.
The award worth 5 million kronor ($537,000) was founded in 2002 by the Swedish government to award writers and illustrators of literature for children and young people, as well as those who promote reading in the spirit of Swedish author Lindgren.
Lindgren created numerous popular fiction characters, including Pippi Longstocking. She died in 2002 aged 94.
“When I was nine I read Astrid Lindgren’s books and the world of Astrid Lindgren was like my own family and the real world was like hers,” Moeyaert said on learning of the award.
“Later I saw that her world was about inclusion. And that was comforting because I was a loner in my big family since I was the youngest,” he added.
The award ceremony is due to take place on May 27 in Stockholm.
Last year, US author Jacqueline Woodson won the prize.
The inaugural winners in 2003 were Maurice Sendak of the United States and Christine Noestlinger of Austria.
— dpa