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One of the selected seminars: Representation in picture books – mirrors and windows.

Ten subtitled author conversations

For the second year running, the Swedish Literature Exchange, the Gothenburg Book Fair, and the Swedish Institute are continuing our collaboration to share conversations about Swedish literature with a global audience.

The collaboration is continuing this year, with ten conversations focusing on Swedish children’s and YA literature – and made available in English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. Just like last year, the Swedish Institute will make this content available to all Swedish bodies and organisations active abroad via its digital platform at sharingsweden.se.

During 2021 Swedish Literature Exchange have been focusing many of our activities on children’s and YA literature. We arrange several events on different aspects of Swedish children’s and YA literature, for translators and publishers, and this year’s edition of the Gothenburg Book Fair Fellowship was also arranged on this theme.

In accordance with this, the ten selected seminars put Swedish children’s and young adult literature in the spotlight, enabling an international audience to get more acquainted with some of the Swedish authors writing for young readers.

These conversations will introduce audiences to a range of children’s and YA authors who will provide insights into their latest books. Nine out of the ten seminars selected are from the book fair’s Children’s and YA strand, while the tenth is from the Democracy strand. These conversations are now available via the Book Fair’s international website, accessed via sub-pages dedicated to each language.

All conversations (English subtitles)

All conversations (French subtitles)

All conversations (German subtitles)

All conversations (Japanese subtitles)

All conversations (Spanish subtitles)


The selected author conversations

Talking with the little ones about big things

The world today is riddled with disturbances, whether it be a pandemic, climate change or war. Even those who are too young to really understand sense the worry in society and the adult world. How are children affected by growing up in a restless time, and how do you talk with them about complex subjects? Can books be a help? Child psychologist Reyhaneh Ahangaran recently published Ska det kännas så här? (Must It Feel Like This?), Frida Berry Eklund is a specialist in climate communication and has written Prata med barn om klimatet (Talking With Children About Climate), and the journalist Martin Schibbye contributed to the book Så funkar krig och konflikter (How Wars and Conflicts Work) by Niki Walker, with reporting about young people all around the world. Moderator: Cecilia Düringer, journalist.

Speakers: Reyhaneh Ahangaran, Frida Berry Eklund, Martin Schibbye.

Moderator: Cecilia Düringer.

Between cultures and grandmother tongues

Salman was looking forward to his family’s first holiday to a sunny destination. But only a few days before departure everything changes, and instead the family has to travel to the parents’ homeland, Baluchistan. In her debut book, Den riktiga solen (The Real Sun), Peimaneh Mollazehi depicts a boy’s inner and outer journey when he encounters a culture so familiar to his parents, but so foreign to himself. In Minoo Sham’s debut Maryam och mormorsmålet (Maryam and the Grandmother Tongue), we follow Maryam’s path forward in Sweden. Grandmother is still in Iran – and why should Maryam speak a language that Grandmother can’t? The follow-up book, Maryam och hjärtegästerna (Maryam and the Loving Guests) continues the same theme, about longing for relatives and family far away, a feeling many children can recognise in themselves. The authors meet in a conversation about feeling at home, being between two cultures and mother tongues. Moderator: Yankho Kamwendo, actor.

Speakers: Peimaneh Mollazehi, Minoo Shams.

Moderator: Yankho Kamwendo.

Trans individuals in the lead role

From having played bizarre supporting roles, trans individuals have now taken big strides forward in TV series, films, books and graphic novels. Elias Ericson’s graphic novel Diana & Charlie is about two trans teenagers, about identity, mental ill health and an uncomprehending adult world. Olivia Skoglund depicts her own gender transition with humour and seriousness in Nästan i mål! (Almost There!). Edward Summanen is an expert in trans issues at RFSL and has just released Queera tider – hbtqi då och nu (Queer Times – LGBTQ Now and Then). Together they will converse about trans depictions in culture, stories that are lacking, and the importance of humour. Moderator: Jenny Jägerfeld, psychologist and author.

Speakers: Elias Ericson, Olivia Skoglund, Edward Summanen.

Moderator: Jenny Jägerfeld.

Mythology, monsters and gothic

In the sumptuously illustrated book Dragons, Johan Egerkrans takes us on an in-depth journey from west to east in search of one of mythology’s most exciting creatures. Why is mythology so enticing, and where does he find his inspiration? Moderator: Gabrielle de Bourg, role play author and horror fan.

Speaker: Johan Egerkrans.

Moderator: Gabrielle de Bourg.

Where are Pippi’s heirs?

It is now over 75 years since Pippi Longstocking first expanded the norms for what a girl gets to be. In connection with last year’s anniversary, literary researcher Mia Österlund pondered Pippi’s heirs in a widely discussed article. Sara Ohlsson’s books about Frallan, Elin Ek’s Athena and Humlan Hansson (Bumblebee Hansson) by Kristina Sigunsdotter were discussed—all feature straightforward, free-speaking and wilful girls as main characters. Here they meet in a conversation about complex girl heroes and about the traces of the world’s strongest girl in today’s children’s literature. Moderator: Lotta Olsson, journalist.

Speakers: Mia Österlund, Sara Ohlsson, Elin Ek, Kristina Sigunsdotter.

Moderator: Lotta Olsson.

The power of the girl collective

It’s not easy to be a young girl, whether in a high school hallway or on social media where narrow norms, comparison anxiety, harassment and structural injustice are everyday fare. Charlotte Cederlund (Så jävla operfekt) (So Damn Imperfect) portrays a group of girls who in the end refuse to accept this. Sannah Salameh (100% äkta fejk) (100% Real Fake) writes about Mariam, who dreams about an existence without harassment and about becoming someone completely different. Lisa Bjärbo and Johanna Lindbäck (Jobbiga tjejer) (Annoying Girls), along with Sara Ohlsson, are current with the second book about three girls who have had enough of injustice. Together they will discuss high school girls’ vulnerability and the power of a girl collective. Moderator: Doreen Månsson, journalist.

Speakers: Charlotte Cederlund, Sannah Salameh, Lisa Bjärbo, Johanna Lindbäck.

Moderator: Doreen Månsson.

Masters of middle-grade

Money that leads to severe moral anguish, stress before an impending Christmas show, a mysterious crate on the subway and absent fathers. Min storslagna död (My Royal Grand Golden Death) by Jenny Jägerfeld, part two in the Skärblacka trilogy, is a book about the price that must be paid to finally become popular. Pengarna (Money) is Bengt Ohlsson’s first book for young readers and is about the collision between dream and reality, and about how burdensome it can be to hold onto a secret. Ulrika Lidbo is current with Djuret (The Creature), a story about an unexpected friendship and a secret animal of unknown origin. These three authors are not afraid to be deeply serious in their realistic stories for middle-grade readers. Moderator: Ebba Kleberg von Sydow, journalist.

Speakers: Jenny Jägerfeld, Bengt Ohlsson, Ulrika Lidbo.

Moderator: Ebba Kleberg von Sydow.

Representation in picture books – mirrors and windows

What happens when you see a reflection of yourself in literature? And what happens when you never get to recognise yourself? Emily Joof (Det djupa blå) (The Deep Blue) writes children’s books with a focus on inclusion and diversity from an Afro-Swedish perspective. Daniel Paris (Edith, Alex och enhöringarna) (Edith, Alex and the Rhinoceroses) debuts as a children’s book author, hoping to broaden the offering of books where same-sex parents are portrayed. Elin Johansson (Gosedjursfesten and Ett rum till Lisen) (The Teddy Bear Party and A Room for Lisen) received widespread acclaim for her debut book, Veckan före barnbidraget (The Week Before Child Support), an honest depiction of everyday life in a family with strained finances. Moderator: Assia Dahir, journalist.

Speakers: Emily Joof, Daniel Paris, Elin Johansson.

Moderator: Assia Dahir.

Dads, poetry and existence

How did everything begin? Where do we come from? Do we sometimes have to go away to find home? With Ingenting och allt (Nothing and Everything), the poet Naima Chahboun, together with the artist Magdalena Cavallin, has created a book for all ages that does not shy away from bewildering existential themes. Kärleken är att jag vill att du finns (Love is Wanting You to Be Here) is August Prize winner Oskar Kroon’s new book about dads who disappear, the mysteries of the universe and teenage love that overcomes everything. Graphic artist Anders Holmer has a new publication, Farväl (Farewell), a wordless story in images about powerlessness, fantasy, acceptance and reconciliation. Each has separately created three fine-tuned, singular universes, where children are taken seriously. Moderator: Jenny Tunedal, poet and literary critic.

Speakers: Naima Chahboun, Oskar Kroon, Anders Holmer.

Moderator: Jenny Tunedal.

Justice – child’s play for the very youngest

In Pija Lindenbaum’s picture book Vitvivan och Gullsippan, (Lillybell and Bluevalley) two groups of children live side by side, but under completely different conditions. Until a child turns everything upside down! In Maria Jönsson’s picture book in accordion format, Nycklarna (The Keys), we meet Castor on one page and Nahid on the other. One takes care of empty houses, the other is looking for a home. Based on their books, Pija Lindenbaum and Maria Jönsson will converse with paediatrician and ALMA jury member Henry Ascher about children and justice. Do children have a natural sense of justice and democracy? What happens in that case when we get older? Moderator: Erik Titusson, publisher at Lilla Piratförlaget.

Speakers: Pija Lindenbaum, Maria Jönsson, Henry Ascher.

Moderator: Erik Titusson.


Cover photo: Assia Dahir, Daniel Paris/Sara Arnald, Elin Johansson/Göran Segeholm, Emily Joof/Hugo Thambert.