The Nordic House is the administrative office for Nordic Council literature prizes. For further information please contact the Head of Secretariat Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter.
Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter
Head of Secretariat, The Nordic Council Literature Prizes
The Nordic Council Literature Prize is one of Europe’s best known and most prestigious literary prizes. The prize has been awarded since 1962 and is worth DKK 350.000 (approx. 47.000 euros).
The prize is given to a current work of fiction written in one of the Nordic languages. This may be a novel, a play, a collection of poems, short stories, or essays that are of a high literary and artistic quality. The prize is designed to generate interest in the literature and language of neighboring countries, and in the Nordic cultural community.
The jury consist of experts from all the Nordic countries, who are selected by the different Nordic ministries of culture. Every year the committee nominates 12–14 literary works in the springtime. The winning work is announced at the prize ceremony during the Nordic Council’s session.
Many famous writers have received the award over the years. Among others, Tomas Tranströmer, Sofi Oksanen, Jon Fosse, Sjón, Sara Stridsberg, Veijo Meri, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Herbjørg Wassmo, Per Petterson, Naja Maria Aidt, Gunnar Ekelöf, Sara Lidman, Willliam Heinensen and Terjej Vesaas.
Monika Fagerholm is awarded the prize for a work that is a stylised tale of morality written with fervent energy.
The prize was awarded by author and artist Zinat Pirzadeh at the digital awards ceremony for the Nordic Council prizes for 2020 on Tuesday evening. COVID-19 meant that the awards ceremony could no longer take place in Iceland. The winners of the five Nordic Council prizes were instead revealed during a digital ceremony.
Monika Fagerholm’s novel Vem dödade bambi? (in English “Who killed Bambi?”, not translated) is a stylised tale of morality written with fervent energy. A gang rape is committed by a group of well-to-do youths in the bourgeois suburb of Villastaden outside Helsinki. Fagerholm’s focus is not the victim but the perpetrators and what takes place before and after the rape, especially the parent generation’s efforts to smooth everything over afterwards. This gives her an excellent opportunity to demonstrate her exacting social satire. The language lurches forwards, then crackles with sheer power before turning into a melancholic incantation. Somewhere in this web of dialogue, choruses, and pop-culture references is a hard truth that affects the people no matter how much they try to defend themselves against it. Gusten Grippe, the only perpetrator to admit his guilt, becomes a counterforce to the dark hollowness from the room where the attack took place. Set against our perpetually superficial, status-hungry time is a yearning for the unspoiled, an essential longing expressed in the form of memories of love and friendship, moments that can be recalled and from which strength can be drawn.
The Nordic Council children’s and young people’s literature prize has been awarded annually since 2013 for literary and illustrated works written for children and young people. It is one of five prizes allocated by the Nordic Council. The prize is worth DKK 350,000 (approx. 47,000 euros). The prize is given to a new work of fiction written for children and young people which is of outstanding quality as literature and for its illustrations.
The expert jury from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland and the Sami language area nominates 12-14 works during the spring and selects the winner in the autumn. The winner is announced at a prize ceremony during the session of the Nordic Council.
The Prize Secretariat is housed at the Nordic House in Reykjavik.
The prize was awarded by the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson at a digital awards ceremony for the Nordic Council prizes for 2020 on Tuesday evening. COVID-19 meant that the awards ceremony could no longer take place in Iceland. The winners of the five Nordic Council prizes were instead revealed during a digital ceremony.
This year’s winning book is undeniably on the side of the child, with a child’s perspective permeating both the text and the pictures. Play serves as the ultimate healer in the most difficult of times, such as when a young child becomes terminally ill. The make-believe savannah with its vibrant orange colours penetrates the bleak world of the hospital. The disorderly game contains all the sorrow and anxiety triggered by the disease. The pictures, decorative elements, and colouration cockily enter into the dialogue of such traditional Nordic picture books as those of Ingrid Vang Nyman and Tove Jansson, but with a completely new expression full of original perspectives, line drawings, colour choices, and character design. The style of the text echoes this approach, with its clever self perspective coloured by the grandiloquence of the game. The portrayal of the parents’ care and despair is the work’s points of pain and rest. The brotherly love and courageous end to the book in turn suggest that a new Nangijala exists. The work is a Nordic collaboration of the highest calibre, deeply moving and open to readers of all ages.