How I Live Now author Meg Rosoff wins Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The jury said the young adult author 'empathizes completely with young people and is utterly loyal to them'

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The Independent Culture

Young adult author Meg Rosoff has won the world’s most lucrative children’s writing prize for her “stylistic masterpieces” that the jury said left “no reader unmoved”.

Rosoff, who was born in Boston and lives in London, will receive the 5m Swedish krona (£430,000) Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for her body of work at a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall at the end of next month. 

She was picked from more than 200 candidates this year with 21 from the UK including Jaqueline Wilson and Neil Gaiman. The jury said Rosoff’s novels “speak to the emotions as well as the intellect,” adding: “In sparkling prose, she writes about the search for meaning and identity in a peculiar and bizarre world.”

The author published her first novel in 2004 with the dystopian young adult novel How I Live Now, which made the Whitbread Awards shortlist. She has written a further six young adult novels including Just in Case and What I Was. She has also written a novel for adults and several picture books.

Rosoff, who has lived and worked in the UK since 1989, has won a string of prizes including the Carnegie Medal and Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis and became Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2014. Her books have been translated into 20 languages. 

Rosoff’s novels cover the hinterland between childhood and adult life in which, the citation said, “at times they are pushed to the brink of the unbearable and beyond. Her protagonists battle questions of identity and sexuality and are thrown involuntarily into chaotic situations”.

The author “empathizes completely with young people and is utterly loyal to them,” the jury said, adding: “She uses concrete, vibrant language, whether she is describing a landscape, a piece of clothing, or the groceries in the pantry. She infuses darkness with humour to produce stylistic masterpieces.”

The prize was set up by the Swedish government in 2002 in memory of Astrid Lindgren, one of Sweden’s most important authors, and “to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature around the world”. 

Her works, which “renewed children’s literature,” have been translated into more than 90 languages. She died at the age of 94 in 2002.

It is presented every year with nominees from around the world eligible. Laureates include Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak and British author Philip Pullman, who wrote the His Dark Materials trilogy.