This year’s prize winner has created a book which engages, touches and makes the reader reflect on collective, political societal issues alongside individual, existential questions.
The book’s visual language is sober and consistent, and carries a clear personal touch. Through pictures and text, the main character’s inner and outer life is depicted in an expressive and unsentimental way. The illustrations are fluid with an everyday melancholy, while the written language is both believable and spoken. Where the text withholds information, the pictures take over as the main narrator of the story. The use of colours is deliberate, effective and telling, and shows how the book’s creator is able to elegantly outline the boundary between past and present, between dreams and reality.
The story has a brutal setting and was inspired by bloodshed. The plot takes place in the period after 22 July 2011, when 77 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the island of Utøya and the government quarter in Oslo. Questions that run like a common thread throughout this graphic novel are: Who is the terrorist? Who am I? Who are we as a society? How do we return to normal life after such a tragedy?
The last two sentences in the book are simple but powerful responses to the cruel act of terrorism:
We only have each other. And we only have the present.
The winner of the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize is “Ubesvart anrop” by Nora Dåsnes.