High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Bart Moeyaert Wins Most Important Prize for Youth Literature
© Joost Joossen
© Joost Joossen © Joost Joossen

Bart Moeyaert Wins Most Important Prize for Youth Literature

The Flemish author Bart Moeyaert has won the 2019 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The award that is also known in literary circles as the “Nobel Prize for Youth Literature”, was presented at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. Winning the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award brings with it a prize of 480,000 euro.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the World’s most import prize for authors of children’s and young people’s books. The award was set up in 2002 in honour of the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, who died that year.

The jury selected Bart Moeyaert from a list of more than 60 nominees. It was the 16th time that Bart Moeyaert had been nominated for the award.

The jury’s citation reads: “Bart Moeyaert’s condensed and musical language vibrates with suppressed emotions and unspoken desires. He portrays relationships at crisis point with a cinematic immediacy, even as his complex narratives suggest new ways forward. Bart Moeyaert’s luminous work underscores the fact that books for children and young people have a self-evident place in world literature.”

“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,” says Bart Moeyaert when he was informed about 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. And this influenced my work. I want to broaden the borders of children’s literature, says Bart Moeyaert when he was informed about the award.”

Diverse oeuvre

Bart Moeyaert was born in 1964 and lives in Antwerp, Belgium. He made his debut at age 19 with the award-winning novel Duet met valse noten (1983). His large and diverse body of work includes more than 50 titles, ranging from picture books and YA novels to poetry. His critically acclaimed books have been translated in more than 20 countries. He also writes television screenplays and stage plays, has translated a number of novels, and teaches creative writing.

Several prizes

His latest novel, Tegenwoordig heet iedereen Sorry (Everybody’s Sorry Nowadays), was published in October 2018 and is a razor-sharp, emotionally charged portrait of twelve-year-old Bianca. The masterpiece Het is de liefde die we niet begrijpen (1999, It’s Love We Don’t Understand) tells the story of a family coming apart at the seams, as seen through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old girl. The pulse-racing drama Blote handen (1995, Bare Hands), winner of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, describes a boy’s tumultuous feelings and takes place on an eventful New Year’s Eve. In the autobiographical Broere (2002, Brothers), Moeyaert writes with warmth and humor about growing up as the youngest of seven brothers. The book was adapted for the stage (with Moeyaert himself in a role) and received the prestigious Woutertje Pieterse Prijs.

Image boost Flemish literature

Organisations that promote children’s and young people’s literature can nominate one or more authors, illustrators, story-tellers or person(s) that promote reading. Bart Moeyaert was nominated by the Flemish branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). 2019 was the 16th time that he had been nominated. Bart Moeyaert winning the prizes is great news for the international image of Flemish literature.

website Bart Moeyaert

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