Speech by Minister for Culture Marita Ulvskog

Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Prizewinner, Dear Colleague, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all carry a special responsibility for filling childhood with lustre and with richness. We have all lived in the magic world where fantasy rules and where anything is possible as long as we want, and believe, enough. A world where no table is too high to climb onto and jump down from; no wallpaper too sacred to paint over with new colours; no sorrow too great to suffocate the desire for play and mischief.

In this world we meet this year’s prizewinner, Lygia Bojunga, who guides us among mysterious handbags, tightrope walkers and giant bears.

Lygia Bojunga often tackles difficult subjects: divorce, infidelity, social critique, and totalitarian thinking. Still a smile is never far away, and the conclusion the reader always draws is that life is an adventure.

Only the ignorant or generals, to use Ms Bojunga’s own words, still imagine that children’s and young people’s literature is of a lower genre; something to amuse children, certainly, but not something that could be regarded as art, not something to be taken seriously.

When the Swedish Government and the Swedish Parliament established the Memorial Award for Literature after Astrid Lindgren’s death in 2002, the purpose was to show in the strongest possible way how highly literary composition for children and young people is valued in our country, and should be valued throughout the world.

Now that the Award is to be presented for the second time, I am delighted to see that the greatest literary prize in the world of children’s books has begun to be recognised and appreciated as a significant cultural expression worthy of note.

Together with millions of children, we are all looking forward to deepening our acquaintance with Lygia Bojunga’s stories. She is both a worthy representative of her continent’s famous magical realism and a children’s author who will in the future rank among the classic writers of the world.

I would like to say this to Lygia Bojunga: In the spirit of Astrid Lindgren, your writing is making a difference. It is influencing our children and young people; how they see the world and how they see themselves.

No life’s work can be of greater importance.

Thank You.

Swedish Minister for Culture Marita Ulvskog
Swedish Minister for Culture Marita Ulvskog