Photo: Joost Joossen

The Flemish author Bart Moeyaert is the laureate of Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2019

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.

- 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. And 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.

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.

Body of work

Painting idyllic scenes or a pure and innocent childhood is not what interests this year’s laureate. He prefers to show us life in all its many facets. He treats existential questions in a realistic, poetic and thought-provoking way. His books draw no easy lines between good and evil.

Selected books

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.