Today, Helen Sigeland, Director of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, was honored by the Swedish Academy for her many years of introducing Swedish culture abroad. The announcement was made at the Academy’s Grand Hall in Stockholm.
Congratulations Helen! How does it feel to receive a recognition like this?
Overwhelming, this was nothing I ever expected. I’m grateful and very honored of course. And surprised!
You have long experience in working with literature issues at an international level, both at the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Institute. What have been most rewarding during these years?
Hard to say but the contacts with professionals from all over the world have been very rewarding, writers, publishers and of course the translators! Without these we would not have any Swedish books published abroad.
What are the main challenges working with introducing any literature internationally today, do you think?
You have to have someone to cooperate with in the country in question and sometimes it takes time to find the right partners. Shortage of translators in some language areas can also be a problem. This is why teaching of Swedish abroad is so important.
The ceremony was attended by Swedish Royal family and broadcast live by Swedish Television (Kunskapskanalen).
The Swedish Academy is an independent cultural institution, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III in order to advance the Swedish language and Swedish literature. The Academy has also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901. Yesterday, the Academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, gave the following description of the ceremony in his blog (our transl.):
Tomorrow it takes place, again, what has been called the oldest, yet played theater piece: the formal meeting of the Swedish Academy. The external form has not changed since 1786. The place is still the Academy’s Grand Hall, the choreography, table settings and placements follow Gustav III’s instruction to the letter, the chairs are actually the same – it is only the fabric that is new.