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Chinese writers nominated for top award

By JULIAN SHEA in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-29 09:32

Three Chinese authors have been nominated for the world's biggest children's literacy prize, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, also known as the ALMA.

The competition was set up by the Swedish government in 2002 in memory of Lindgren, one of Sweden's most popular authors, and creator of the Pippi Longstocking books. It recognizes authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters.

The list of contenders for the 2021 award, whose winner will be revealed in April, contains 263 nominees from 69 countries. The Chinese contenders are author and illustrator Liang Xiong, and writers Wenjun Qin and Zhang Zhilu.

Liang is an ink wash artist from Jiaxing, who was nominated for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards. His works reviving traditional Chinese stories include Peking Opera Cat, A Little Stone Lion and The New Year Monster.

Qin Wenjun, from Shanghai, first fell in love with literature when she was housebound as a child because of whooping cough. Her books include Aroma's Little Garden and the hugely popular Jia Li in Junior High, which was turned into a film, TV series, stage and radio play. The third nominee, Zhang Zhilu, is best known for his science fiction work.

Past winners of the prize include British novelist Philip Pullman, famed for the His Dark Materials trilogy, and Oscar-winning Australian illustrator and writer Shaun Tan, whose father is Chinese.

"Now more than ever, children and young people need access to literature that puts the world in perspective," said jury chairman Boel Westin. "The ALMA list has a fantastic breadth, quality and diversity."

"Thank you very much to whoever nominated me for this great award," tweeted one of the British nominees, Michael Rosen, who is currently recovering after spending 47 days in intensive care and being put into an induced coma because of the novel coronavirus. "It's an honour for me to be on the list and can I express a big friendly, brotherly, well done, hello and 'mazeltov' to everyone else on the list?"

The winner, chosen by 12 judges, receives a cheque for five million Swedish krona ($570,534).Although it is currently unclear what will be permitted for next year, normally when the winner is announced, they travel to Sweden for ALMA Week in May, where they visit schools and libraries before being presented with the award at the Stockholm Concert Hall, and then have a banquet in their honor.

The ALMA was set up after Lindgren died at the age of 94. She wrote 34 story books and 41 picture books, with her most famous creation being super-strong 9-year-old Pippi Longstocking, who was recently adopted as a mascot by charity Save the Children International for its Pippi of Today campaign, helping refugee girls.

Altogether, Lindgren's books have sold 165 million copies in more than 100 languages, and remain hugely popular around the world.

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