Flemish author Bart Moeyaert is the winner of the 2019 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s book award, with the laureate receiving five million Swedish kronor (more than $500,000 at present exchange rates). The award was announced live from Sweden on April 2, and was broadcast simultaneously at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Moeyaert, who lives in Antwerp, Belgium, made his debut in 1983 at age 19 with the award-winning novel Duet met valse noten (Off-Key Duet). His latest novel, Tegenwoordig heet iedereen Sorry (Everyone’s Sorry Nowadays), was published in 2018. Moeyaert has written more than 50 titles, including picture books, YA novels, and poetry. In addition, Moeyaert writes television screenplays and stage plays, and teaches creative writing. His work has been translated into more than 20 countries.

In its citation, the ALMA award jury wrote, “Bart Moeyaert’s condensed and musical language vibrates with suppressed emotions and unspoken desires. He portrays relationships at crisis point with a cinematic immediacy, even as his complex narratives suggest new ways forward. Bart Moeyaert’s luminous work underscores the fact that books for children and young people have a self-evident place in world literature.”

Upon learning of his prize, Moeyaert told the jury, “When I was nine, I read Astrid Lindgren’s books and the world of Astrid Lindgren was like my own family and the real world was like hers. And later I saw that her world was about inclusion. And that was comforting because I was a loner in my big family since I was the youngest. And this influenced my work. I want to broaden the borders of children’s literature.”

The award, which is administered by the Swedish Arts Council, will be presented in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on May 27.