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Book recommendation: “What I was”

August 2, 2016

If you haven’t read Meg Rosoff’s “What I was” yet, you should take the chance and get to know the third novel of this year’s ALMA laureate.

“What I was” (2007), takes the form of a retrospective personal history where body, identity and gender issues, and themes of loss and memory, are central. It is a complex tale of friendship, love, and liberation, of reflections on a wounded past, and of difficult crossroads in life.

BLOG_What I wasBLOG_Den-jag-varThe story takes place in the 1960’s in a coastal landscape that is slowly sinking beneath the sea: a suggestive setting that mirrors the transgression of boundaries staged in the novel. In this barren world, we meet a sixteen-year-old narrator who has been sent off to a school for boys after being expelled from two previous boarding schools. His father demands that he clean up his act and become a man, but being a boy who measures up to the middle-class ideals of his family and school – popular, smart, athletic – is hard enough. Chafing at the future that has been laid out for him, he finds an escape when he meets Finn, a boy who lives alone in a shack by the ocean. In Finn he sees the person he would like to be, but his all-absorbing love has dramatic consequences and blinds him to who Finn really is.

Book recommendation: “Just in case”

July 27, 2016

Summer holiday is the perfect time to dig deeper into an authorship. Why not get to know the fascinating work of this year’s ALMA laureate, Meg Rosoff? Throughout the summer we will publish a few book recommendations on the blog and today the book in focus is “Just in case” (2006).

BLOG_Just in CaseBLOG_Justin CaseFifteen-year-old David Case is struggling with his newfound insight into his own mortality. He decides to cheat Fate by becoming a different person. He changes his name to Justin and adopts a whole new lifestyle, but in the process he loses himself.

With both humor and heartache, Rosoff traces the ways in which the world misunderstands Justin’s crisis of identity and tries to make him into someone he is not. The stream-of-consciousness narration – which mirrors the twists and turns in Justin’s brain – holds readers in an iron grip. Like the protagonist Holden in Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel, “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951), Justin clearly struggles with his perception of reality: he can hear the voice of Fate, and he keeps company with an imaginary dog.

Book recommendation: “How I live now”

June 29, 2016

Summer means holiday and leisure time for most of us. Why not seize the opportunity and explore some of Meg Rosoff’s novels?

Her work form a suite of existential dramas in which values and norms, ideas and preconceptions are subjected to constant challenge and change. Meg’s books stand out for the way she writes about young people: with respect, but also with critical, intimate scrutiny and much humor.

Throughout the summer we will publish a few book recommendations on the blog. First in line is Meg’s debut novel, “How I live now” (2004).

NY BLOG_How I live nowNY BLOG_Så har jag det nuThe book is an unsettling depiction of war and love from a young adult’s point of view. It is both a dystopian action story and a novel about a provocative love affair between two young cousins – one of whom is only fourteen years old – that bursts the traditional bounds of the young adult literature genre.

Fifteen-year-old Daisy from New York is sent to visit relatives in England for the summer. When a war suddenly breaks out, she and her cousins must fend for themselves without adult assistance. The madness and chaos of war leave little time for reflection; or as Daisy says, “If you haven’t been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is no time at all.”

How do you feel alive when your world is falling apart? The novel offers no easy answers. Daisy pays a high price for her survival, but she also reaches new insights about herself and the things worth living for. “How I live now” enjoyed tremendous success and had a significant impact on the development of novels for young adults.

Rosoff’s body of work now includes seven young adult novels and several picture books as well as a novel for adults. The books that have followed her debut are all very different from one another, but all are surprising, radical, and emotionally charged.

Short movie about Meg’s authorship

June 13, 2016

It’s already two weeks since the award ceremony took place in Stockholm and Meg Rosoff is back in the UK again. Even though the ALMA week 2016 is over, there is plenty of time to dig deeper into Meg’s authorship. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, you should watch this short movie where some of her stories are introduced in a very interesting way! The movie was shown at the award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on the 30th of May.

As a reader it’s a pleasure to take part of Meg Rosoff’s work. She writes about the big questions in life and her protagonists face difficult trials in their quests to find themselves. They often battle questions of identity and sexuality, and Meg infuses darkness with humor to produce stylistic masterpieces.

Videos from the award ceremony

May 31, 2016

If you missed yesterday’s award ceremony in the Stockholm Concert Hall, or just want to experience it again, you can watch some videos listed below! There is a video with highlights from the ceremony as well as a video of Meg’s speech and interviews with Meg’s publisher and the chairman of the ALMA jury. Enjoy!

Highlights from the ceremony:

Meg Rosoff’s speech:

Interview with Meg’s publisher, Catherine Clark:

Interview with the chairman of the ALMA jury, Boel Westin:

Meg Rosoff in international media

May 31, 2016

Meg Rosoff became a literary superstar after receiving the Astrid Lindgren memorial award. Below you find some of the international articles and interviews with Meg.

Alma media coverage

The diary of Meg Rosoff in Sweden – in pictures (The Guardian)

After winning the world’s largest cash prize for children’s literature, the Astrid Lindgren memorial award, Meg Rosoff has become a literary superstar in Sweden. Here is her account of her whirlwind tour of a country which takes its children’s books seriously:

Meg Rosoff condemns the UK government’s “assault on childhood” – article in the Guardian

Accepting the Astrid Lindgren award last night, Meg Rosoff attacked overwhelming stress on exams over Culture. She condemned the government’s “assault on childhood”, saying that teaching and learning have become “joyless” in the UK. Read the full article in the Guardian.

The public talk at Kulturhuset in Stockholm between Meg Rosoff and jury member Maria Lassén-Seger (UR Play):

Radio interview with Jenny Aschenbrenner in SR Kulturpodden, (SR P1 Kulturpodd)

“I’m always looking at the edges where things start to break down, the line between being sane and being insane. I don’t believe that life has nice even edges, and it’s those funny areas that I’m interested in.”

TV interview for Babel (Babel SVT 2)

During the award week in Stockholm Meg Rosoff came on a flying visit to record the last show of literary TV show Babel for the season. The host for Babel, Jessika Gedin, interviewed Meg, the writer Nuruddin Farah, originally from Somalia, now living in Cape Town, and the rap artist Silvana Imam.

Radio interview with the laureate shortly after the announcement in SR Kulturpodden, (SR P1 Kulturpodd)

Illustration of Meg’s speech

The illustrator Chris Riddell made a beautiful interpretation of Meg Rosoff’s acceptance speech on his blog.

A wonderful award night

May 31, 2016

What a fantastic evening! Yesterday’s ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, when Meg Rosoff received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2016, was such a great experience. Beautiful speeches, brilliant music and wonderful atmosphere. These pictures taken by photographer Stefan Tell give you some highlights from the evening!


The sun was shining and the Stockholm Concert Hall was beautifully decorated.


Katti Hoflin was the compere of the night.


The Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, made the congratulatory speech.


Boel Westin, Chairman of the ALMA jury, read the jury’s citation.


Emotional moment when Meg Rosoff received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2016.


Meg Rosoff made a very strong and beautiful acceptance speech.


Great music by Bo Kaspers Orkester.


Hamadi Khemiri read an exerpt from Meg Rosoff’s novel “What I was”.


Beautiful musical entertainment by Malena Ernman.


The Concert Hall was full.


Many people wanted to document the evening.


Evening sun when the ceremony was finished.

Meg Rosoff Accepts Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Before Full Stockholm Concert Hall

May 30, 2016

Meg Rosoff Accepts Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Before Full Stockholm Concert Hall

Meg Rosoff tonight received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy Mrs. Alice Bah Kuhnke. In her acceptance speech she expressed both praise and criticism.

Rosoff spoke joyfully but also gravely. She expressed pleasure and pride at being recognized for her work as an author. She also described a sense of sorrow for today’s world of child refugees, leaders who know too little about the importance of art, music, and literature for young people, and societies that value lawyers and bankers more than teachers and librarians.

Meg Rosoff emphasized the importance of the imagination, quoting Astrid Lindgren: “Everything great that happened in this world happened first in someone’s imagination.”

– It is a great honour and a great responsibility to carry on the work that Astrid Lindgren began. I am not only grateful for the recognition this prize brings, but for a country that puts such tremendous value on children’s books and children’s imaginations.

In her congratulatory speech, Minister Bah Kuhnke mentioned difficulties facing young people today:

– 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.

Musical entertainment was provided by Malena Ernman and Bo Kasper’s Orchestra. Hamadi Khemiri read from Rosoff’s novel, What I Was. The ceremony was hosted by Stockholm City Librarian Katti Hoflin.




For further information, please contact:
Helene Oljons, Communications Officer
Tel +46(0)765401025

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The UN convention of rights of the child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is administrated by the Swedish Arts Council.

Public talk at Kulturhuset

May 26, 2016

Last night Meg Rosoff was invited to Kulturhuset in Stockholm, the Stockholm house of culture and city theatre, for a public award lecture. The jury member Maria Lassén-Seger interviewed Meg and their conversation included a variety of interesting topics related to Meg’s writing and children’s literature in general. Among the themes discussed were the role that animals, humour and elements of magic realism play in her stories, and the drift of ages within the characters in her books.

Kulturhuset webb

Meg and Maria Lassén-Seger. Photo: Stefan Tell


Meg also reflected upon the fact that it took her quite a long time to find out that she actually was an author and wrote her debut novel “How I live now”.

“I was convinced I couldn’t do it. There were no manuscripts in the wardrobe because I thought that if I can’t do it really well, I won’t do it. And that was quite a depressing thought.”

Meg also talked about the way she writes and that she doesn’t know herself how the story is going to end when she initiate a new project. Often it starts with just one line and then she sees where that line will take her.

“I think that writing comes from a very deep place, from the unconscious. I imagine it to be a great big dark place from which you sometimes can cross a bridge to the conscious mind. Writers spend a big part of their lives in that dark place and get more and more used to crossing that bridge”.

The award lecture will be broadcasted by the Swedish TV channel Kunskapskanalen on Monday 31st of May at 3.30 pm.

Inspiring morning in Hjulsta

May 25, 2016

This morning it was time for Meg Rosoff to visit Hjulsta elementary school and meet all the enthusiastic and curious students and teachers there. We had a great time! First Meg got to meet a group of seventh graders who had prepared questions for her.


“Where does your inspiration come from?”

“What was your first profession?”

“What was your reaction when you first got to know that you had won the price?”

Meg shared her thoughts with the students and told them, among other things, that it took a long time for her to figure out what she wanted to do in life.

“In a way, I stayed a teenager for a long time. I just couldn’t figure out how to be an adult. I have done everything late in life; I met my husband late, I got my daughter when I was 40 and I didn’t write my first book until I was 45. But, as Shakespeare says, the readiness is all. Sometimes you just have to wait until it’s time for something to happen in life.”

Then it was time for a discussion in the library with ten 15-year-old students who had all read the book “How I live now”. The war theme in the book, the way the story is written and the psychological development of Daisy, the main character, were topics that were brought up for discussion.

To conclude the morning in Hjulsta, the young pupils in the school had prepared some wonderful ALMA inspired entertainment. A group of fourth graders performed their own, fantastic ALMA song as well as a few classic Astrid Lindgren songs from the Pippi Longstocking movies. Then Meg Rosoff got more questions from the pupils. Among other things the children wanted to know what she plans to do with the money she receives as an ALMA laureate.

“Well, I want to buy a spotted horse and be able to lift it with only one hand”, she said and the children laughed.

To get a feeling of what it was like to be in Hjulsta today, have a look at the beautiful pictures taken by photographer Stefan Tell.b_ALMA_2016-05-25_Meg-Rosoff_Hjulstaskolan_022_blogg450