A Grand Winner

On August 25 it was announced that Johan Ehn’s astonishing YA-novel The Horse Boys won the Nils Holgersson Plaque 2020. The award is highly regarded, previously given to great children’s authors.

The jury motivation:
The Horse Boys is a multifaceted novel of development. The book describes in a sensitive way the story of a low-key friendship beyond generational boundaries. A young man starts working in home care service, where he meets and befriends an older man. Slowly, the older gentleman’s life story is unveiled, shedding light on the lack of history demonstrated in our time. The author raises poignant questions regarding how we view our elders and the older generation’s experiences that can help us understand our own lives in present day.

The novel interlaces the past and present in a masterful way. In parallel with the contemporary storyline, we follow two orphaned boys growing up in Eastern Europe in the 1930’s, through rich descriptive language we are transported to a variety of historical places and environments. A strong theme throughout the novel is the medium of communication, both between people and with animals. The Horse Boys is an important novel about the history of the LGBTQ movement. It brings to light the crimes committed against these groups, but it also highlights the people who have meant a lot to the progress of the movement. The Horse Boys is a strong love novel reminding us of every human beings’ right to be acknowledged, respected, and understood.”

The Nils Holgersson Plaque is an award distributed by the Swedish Library Association. The winner is elected by a group of librarians, teachers, professors, and other experts on children’s reading. The award was instituted in 1950 and is given annually to the author of the previous year’s best children’s and YA-novel. The first ever winner of the Nils Holgersson Plaque was Astrid Lindgren, and the award is handed out annually on Selma Lagerlöf’s birthday, November 20.

“I’m so honored. /…/ I’ve learned so much from my horse boys and the journeys they brought me on”, says Johan Ehn in an interview with the Swedish Library Association.

We are incredibly happy and proud of this astonishing and well-deserved win. Congratulations, Johan Ehn!