Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 13, 2008

Astrid Lindgren Award (anyone remember Pippi Longstocking?)

Filed under: from your prof — sunyprof @ 12:50 pm

Josh asked one night about the range of awards given for YA lit. That question has stayed in and on my mind and I’m happy to announce another award that you may not know about. This year the Astrid Lindgren award, the world’s ($$) largest award for children’s and young adult literature, has gone to Sonya Harnett, author of the National Book Award finalist, Surrender, as well as many other compelling books for young readers. I have a copy of SURRENDER if you’re interested. I love this review of it:

“Gabriel is dying. As life slips away, he looks back over his brief twenty years that have been clouded by frustration and humiliation. A small town and distant parents ensure that he is never allowed to forget the horrific mistake he made as a child. He has only two friends – his dog Surrender, and the unruly wild boy Finnigan, with whom he made a boyhood pact. When a series of arson attacks grips the town, Gabriel realises how unpredictable and dangerous Finnigan is. Events begin to spiral out of control, and it becomes clear that only the most extreme measures will rid Gabriel of Finnigan for good … The most gratifying thing about “Surrender” is that, against all odds, it works. It would have been easy for this novel to succumb to the machinations of its thriller plot (a wonderful yarn borrowing from both the Faust and “wheatbelt gothic” traditions), or to the complexities of the episodic, double-voiced structure necessarily required if it’s to do the things the author wants it to do. Add to that Hartnett’s penchant for a prose that regularly borders on poetry and, in lesser hands, it could have been disastrous. As it turns out, SURRENDER is probably the best novel you’ll read all year. What saves it is not only Hartnett’s skill and experience, evident on every page, but the fact that the entire thing is shot through with such intense compassion. Damaged children are her stock in trade, and she never fails to make you feel for them, understand them, love them – even when they’re involved in things we might otherwise deem unspeakable. Like her last, prize-winning effort for adults, OF A BOY, this is one of those extremely rare novels possessed of all the essential qualities of great fiction: brilliant language, engaging characters, the urgency of an airport page-turner, and something important to say. It’s one of those books that makes you sit back and wonder what the hell it is that other writers think they’re doing with their time – and yours.”

I now plan to investigate Harnett’s other fiction for young adults. KES

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