Portrait of Laurie Halse Anderson

A darkly radiant realism

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of America’s foremost writers for young adults. Her breakthrough novel, Speak, was published in 1999 and has been translated into many languages and adapted for film. In her richly expressive novels for young people she gives voice to the adolescent experience with sometimes brutal honesty. The yearning for love and belonging is a recurring theme for Anderson.

Quick facts

Name Laurie Halse Anderson
Birthyear 1961
Country USA
Profession Author
Award year 2023
First important reading experience The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The jury’s motivation

"In her tightly written novels for young adults, Laurie Halse Anderson gives voice to the search for meaning, identity, and truth, both in the present and the past. Her darkly radiant realism reveals the vital role of time and memory in young people’s lives. Pain and anxiety, yearning and love, class and sex are investigated with stylistic precision and dispassionate wit. With tender intensity, Laurie Halse Anderson evokes moods and emotions, and never shies from even the hardest things."

Book recommendations by the jury

Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Speak (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999)
"A skilfully written, informed depiction of how rape survivors experience stigmatization as a result of emotional and physical bullying."

Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

Wintergirls (Viking, 2009)
"A harrowing and detailed documentation of two girls’ life-threatening eating disorders, including calorie counting and self-harming behaviours."

Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory (Viking, 2014)
"Hayley’s father is a war veteran who has PTSD and abuses alcohol. Hayley—the grown-up in the family—lives in a state of constant worry about her father and hides her difficult situation from her school and the authorities."

Laurie Halse Anderson, The Seeds of America Trilogy

Seeds of America (Atheneum, 2008-2016)
"The trilogy Seeds of America is an impressive picture of a society and an era. It reflects Anderson’s burning interest both in the history of America and in the ways that individual destinies are formed."

Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout

Shout (Viking, 2019)
"A memoir-in-verse in which Anderson writes about her own upbringing and how she found her way to books, reading, and language."

The only thing that helped me breathe was opening a book

- Laurie Halse Anderson from Shout

Laurie Halse Anderson in conversation with culture writer Johanna Lundin. Filmed at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm, Thursday 4 May, 2023.