Rakel Helmsdal wins West Nordic Council’s Children and Youth Literature Prize

Rakel Helmsdal wins West Nordic children book award


Written by Eir Nolsøe on FaroeIslands.fo

Faroese author Rakel Helmsdal has won the West Nordic Council’s award for best children’s book. Her novel takes on heavy issues such as suicide and homosexuality.

The novel’s title, Hon, ið róði eftir Ælaboganum, roughly translates to She Who Rowed to the Rainbow. The award committee, chaired by Oddfríður Marni Rasmussen, praised Helmsdal for her ability to take on difficult topics.

Rasmussen said: “The characters reflect young people today. They have the same issues that teenagers deal with and which have always fascinated a young readership. We’re looking at topics such as homosexuality, suicide, the relationship between young people and their parents, the modern family and the fragile existence that young people lead and always have led: To row after happiness, luck, love and friendships, which like the rainbow never stay in the same place.”

The novel portrays a beautiful and clever girl, called Argantael, who despite being popular is deeply unhappy. Her father is emotionally unavailable and always works, while the mother suffers from a mental illness. She decides to end her life after the family is hit by a tragedy and she meets her two half-siblings.

When accepting the award, Helmsdal said: “The world is full of limitations and boundaries. In my mind there are no limitations. There is no limit between dreams and reality. I write to continuously explore this boundlessness. That’s what makes spending 16 years on completing a novel such as Hon, sum róði eftir ælaboganum worthwhile. When I write, everything is the possible – both the most horrendous and the most beautiful things.”

The book is written to Enigma Variations by British composer Edgar Elgar.

The committee said: “This is a book, which with great quality portrays youth’s most difficult issues. When you have read it, you’ll continue to add more bits, creating your own story and your own end to the book.”

The West Nordic Council’s book award is handed to a Faroese, Greenlandic or Icelandic author every other year. Helmsdal is the only Faroese author to have won apart from Bárður Oskarsson, who won the award in 2006.

(Photo: Birgir Kruuse)



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