23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Susin Nielsen

Portrait Susin Nielsen
© Darko Sikman

Canadian children’s and young adult author Susin Nielsen began her career as a television screenwriter. She got her start penning 16 episodes for the hit series »Degrassi Junior High«.
After releasing a number of picture books, she wrote her first young adult novel, »Word Nerd«. It was published in 2008 and tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy named Ambrose, a boy whose protective mother decided to homeschool him after a bullying incident at school. In the evenings, when his mother goes to work, he begins to strike up a one-way friendship with his 25-year-old neighbor (who happens to have a criminal record). A mutual love of Scrabble results in a friendship between the two very different characters. Nielsen’s novel, »Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom« (2010), follows the story of a girl who decides that George Clooney would make the perfect stepfather and sets out to meet the film star while visiting her father and his new wife in Hollywood. The novel »We Are All Made of Molecules« (2015) follows the story of two mismatched siblings trying to adapt to their new patchwork family. Despite the rays of humour that continually shine through, the book also deals with many serious issues such as coming to terms with homosexuality, the experiences of violence, as well as loss and grief. Nielsen’s »The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen« (2012) was inspired by Wally Lamb’s »The Hour I First Believed«, a novel in which a woman witnesses the shooting at Columbine and in which the experience of the shooter’s older brother is also described. »I realized I had never thought about what it would be like for the surviving sibling of someone who committed a horrific crime.« Nielsen’s novel focuses on brothers Jesse and Henry – one of whom was bullied into murder and suicide; the other is the surviving brother who comes to a new city and a new school after the disaster. Here, on the one hand, he has to cope with his grief over the loss of his brother and, on the other hand, through his own experience, he increasingly understands the desperate situation in which his brother had found himself. The novel »Optimists Die First« (2017), was followed up by Nielsen’s most recent novel, »No Fixed Address« (2018), a story about family, friendship, growing up, and the threat of homelessness. Nielsen’s most recent young adult novel, »Tremendous Things« (2021), entertainingly recounts the hardships of a teenager who must learn to stay true to herself even in the most embarrassing situations.
Nielsen’s books have been translated into many languages and have won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award, as well as the Canadian Library Association’s Children’s Book of the Year. The author lives in Vancouver.