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Mar312011

Shaun Tan adds Lindgren to his Oscar

From the Canberra Times, 31 March 2011:

 

After the hoo-ha of winning an Oscar a couple of weeks ago, Shaun Tan thought he was bound for a quieter life.

That was until he got a phone call from Sweden on Tuesday night telling him he had won the world's richest award for children's and young-adult literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize, worth 5million kronor ($A767,000).

''I was washing the dishes when my phone went,'' he said.

''I couldn't recognise the number and I was going to ignore it. I was very confused and I only picked it up at the last moment. The voice at the other end mentioned Astrid Lindgren and I thought they probably wanted more information about me because I knew I had been nominated for it and they always want lots of details.

''But then in a formal way the voice said they had chosen me as recipient of the prize and asked, 'How do you feel?', and I was still doing the dishes.''

Tan's call came only a couple of hours before the official announcement. But when he heard a round of applause he was alarmed to realise that, from his kitchen sink, he was on speaker phone to the awards committee.

Its citation describes Tan as ''a masterly visual storyteller, pointing the way ahead to new possibilities for picture books. His pictorial worlds constitute a separate universe where nothing is self-evident and anything is possible ... He combines brilliant, magical narrative skill with deep humanism.''

Tan has produced more than 20 books including The Rabbits, The Red Tree, The Arrival, and Tales from Outer Suburbia.

Tan said the award, which like the Nobel prize is given for a body of work, was almost the polar opposite of the Academy Award he received for his animated film, The Lost Thing.

''The Oscar is a great award but this feels more significant because it is not voted on. There is serious deliberation and they said it was a unanimous decision, which I was surprised about.''

The writer and illustrator, who was raised in Perth but has lived in Melbourne for many years, said he would probably use some of the money to get new studio facilities.

''I will [also] be looking at donating some of the money to funds I have been supporting, such as the Indigenous Literacy project,'' he said.

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