Tal av Alice Bah Kuhnke vid utdelningen av ALMA-priset 2016 (på engelska)
Stockholm, 30 maj 2016.
Det talade ordet gäller.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear laureate Meg Rosoff,
Taking care of small children can be exhausting. They don't sleep, they don't eat, they constantly make a mess – and they take a surreal amount of time to get dressed. But of course; they are small, soft and they smell nice.
And it is amazing to discover the world in their company, they point out the obvious things that we had forgotten but love to get to know again; how fluffy a bumblebee is or how fun it can be to mess with clay.
With teenagers in the family things are slightly different. They leave us more time, they get dressed and organize their own social life. But they confront us with something that is not as easy to wipe off as it is to clean sticky fingers or to dry tears after a scrubbed knee.
They confront us with questions about life and pure existence; who am I? Can I be whoever I want? Where is my place in the world? Teenagers pinpoint the essence of life in a way that can be quite painful for us adults. And as adults we still remember how strong these feelings could be and how devastating the consequences of our action could appear. The self-centeredness of teenage life makes us embarrassed.
Teenage-years are a bit like no man's land. No one is invited to come close and there are no clear sign posts for direction. It is comfortable for the rest of us to keep it on a certain distance. And it can be awfully difficult to dig into our teenagers' emotions since it forces us to reflect on our own lives.
Someone who doesn't fear this is this year's laurate of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award; Meg Rosoff.
Dear Meg Rosoff, you are brave enough to dive into teenagers' minds and you create a world where they are the most important persons. A world where a young boy causes natural disasters in the world depending of which girl he falls in love with. You point out that having "Imaginary Companions" is not necessarily something that can be useful only for small children. Your main characters struggle with the same issues that all teenagers do, but they find new, unconventional and creative ways to deal with them.
Death, love and identity; you avoid none of these questions that parents might fear when saying good night to their teenager after a full day at work. You are certainly not making life comfortable.
Just like Astrid Lindgren, Meg Rosoff does not fear the most difficult questions in life. Despite Astrid Lindgren's often idyllic scenery, questions about life, love and death always lie under the surface. Meg Rosoff handles these questions in a unique and unpredictable way – and that is one reason why her work is loved by so many and why she today is being awarded the largest prize for literature for children in the world.
Meg Rosoff's work echoes the message in the work of Astrid Lindgren; "Ask all the questions, declare all your fears, I will not provide you with the answers but I will stand by your side". This is the way that also Astrid Lindgren´s authorship has worked for millions of children around the world. Both Lindgren and Rosoff have also been champions in making young people look upon book reading as a perfectly normal and fun thing to do.
Dear Meg Rosoff, you give our young ones strength to be who they want. Their search for identity can be painful, but it is extremely important for society as a whole that everyone can live their full potential. To become citizens with democratic values who are eager to defend their freedom or fight for it.