Yesterday and today I am in Riga, Latvia across the Baltic Sea from Sweden. I really like this city, which is the largest city of the Baltic States. 

Riga is a beautiful city and I have a lot of friends here.

We Swedes have always been very close to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the sea. For centuries the ties between our countries have been excellent. 

I personally enjoy the mentality here and in all of the Baltic States. I feel at home here. 

Great meetings and I also got a chance to catch with an old friend of mine who now lives here. 

This week we will learn who receives the Nobel Prize in litterature. Seven Swedes have since the start of the prize – 1901 – won the prize over the years, namely: Selma Lagerlöf,  Verner von Heidenstam, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Pär Lagerkvist,  Eivind Johnson, Harry Martinson and Thomas Tranströmer. 

Out of this group of giants my personal favourite is Thomas Tranströmer, one of the best poets ever. 

However our best writer will never win the prize, since it is not awarded posthumously.  This has though occurred twice against the rules when the 1931 Literature Prize was awarded to Erik Axel Karlfeldt, and the 1961 Peace Prize awarded to UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. Since 1974, laureates must be thought alive at the time of the October announcement.

Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) is in my opinion our best wrter ever and she has certainly sold more books and had impact on more people than sny other individual writer. The reason? She wrote childrens’ books. 

But Astrid Lindgren was so much more than a best-selling author of children’s books like Pippi Longstocking. She was also an important opinion former who helped unseat a Swedish government, influenced changes in the law and even inspired anarchists.

Astrid Lindgren is the eighteenth most translated author in the world, and one of the most well-known Swedish authors. 

She became an author relatively late in life, and an influential voice on everyday issues even later. Because of her popularity, people listened to what Lindgren had to say.

Lindgren talked about everything including politics. However she also turned her common sense, sharp mind and clarity of expression to the issue of violence against children. Here she used her acceptance speech for the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which she was awarded in 1978, as the platform for her views.

The essence of the speech was that if children are brought up with violence, chances are that they will use violence when they grow up. And if they are people with power, this may be very dangerous.

The speech generated a great deal of attention in Sweden, Germany and further afield, and was one factor behind Sweden becoming the first country to ban the smacking of children in 1979. Lindgren’s involvement also caught the attention of the victims; after the speech, two boys in foster care in Germany ran away and turned up on her doorstep in Stockholm. Lindgren helped send them back and ensured that they were well treated from then on.

Lindgren lecturing a skinhead on a Stockholm street

Lindgren’s drive to protect the powerless from the powerful also extended to animals, and she became a high-profile advocate of the prevention of cruelty to animals. ‘She was not a vegetarian, but she knew that if we are to keep our humanity, we have to treat other living beings with respect’, Törnqvist says.

Lindgren’s campaign, started as a reaction against industrial-scale farming, stirred up public opinion and led to the government announcing the so-called Lex Lindgren animal welfare law as an eightieth birthday present for the author.

Lindgren’s legacy to Sweden is a long row of much-loved books and charachters like e.g; featuring Pippi Longstocking, Emil in Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, the Six Bullerby Children (Children of Noisy Village in the US), as well as the children’s fantasy novels Mio min Mio, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart. Having said that, her engagement and attitude also helped change the laws of our country in a range of areas. Because Astrid was an activist before people even knew what the word meant. 

Astrid touched the everyday Swede. There was a combination of common sense, straightforwardness and warmth in everything she did, which made her unique.

Lindgren has sold roughly 144 million books worldwide.

It is Monday morning, again. Another morning at Copenhagen Airport a.k.a Kastrup. 

This is my normal routine, to fly out to the world from Copenhagen on Sunday night or Monday morning. 

It has become a part of my professional life to be in the air, travelling the world. 

Last year I had 280 travelling days. This year, maybe more. 

I like Kastrup, Copenhagen Airport. It is a great airport – all except for luggage handling which is of a quality below avarage in Europe. 

I have my routines at the airport which notmally starts with a coffee at Starbucks. 

This week is a travelling week with five countries in five days. See you in the air or on the road.