Per Nilsson

Per Nilsson was born in Malmö, Sweden in 1954 and is one of Sweden’s leading authors of young people’s literature.  After completing his degree, he began working as a mathematics and music teacher at a secondary school before making writing his only profession in 1999. Today he writes for all those young people who are thrown into the reality of life with heads full of dreams, fear and longing.  “I think about my books as letters.  I want to keep up a dialogue.  About life and death, about hope and trust in the future, about the roles that we play, about the world we live in, and about love.  Most of all I want to speak to somebody who is sixteen years old.  Or thirteen or twenty.” In a mélange of classicalepic narrative, and cinematic storytelling structures, Nilsson’s novels encompass the emotional lives of adolescents and pose the question of how a young adult can and should live today.

‘Hjärtans fröjd’ (1992; Engl: Heart’s Delight, 2003), which was awarded the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1997, and has been translated into numerous languages, is one of Nilsson’s most important novels for young people.  In possibly “the most beautiful and saddest, yet most comforting love story existing in modern youth literature” (Praxis Deutsch, 2000), he describes in hindsight the great tragedy of first love, with all its happy moments as well as its gnawing pain and creates a novel of silent tones that uses the end as the beginning.  As in many of his works for young adults, the characters in ‘du&du&du’ (1998; Engl: You&You&You) are simultaneously eccentric outsiders, dreamers and loveable contemporaries, who protect their secrets vehemently and whose lives take a decisive turn within the course of a few hours. A pretty girl who contemplates the link between lust and love, a crazy boy who thinks his father is God, and a young man who allows himself to be buried alive in order to find out what life is all about – Nilsson has taken big themes and bundled them up to create a humorous, occasionally sad and not least erotically uninhibited novel.  ‘Ett annat sätt att vara ung’ (2000; Engl: A Different Way of Being Young) is an elegantly constructed and exciting novel.  It realistically depicts eighteen year old Hannah, a curious and self-critical heroine, who questions how theory and practice are related in real life and how the soul, consciousness and the body can be reconciled.

Per Nilsson was honoured for his work with the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 1999, and has been nominated for the August Prize – the most important literature award in Sweden – five times already.  He is married, has four children and lives in Sölvesborg, a small village on Sweden’s Baltic coast.

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