( dpa ) - Australian writer Sonya Hartnett was Wednesday named winner of the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a literary prize created in honour of the Swedish creator of numerous popular fiction characters including Pippi Longstocking.
Hartnett was "one of the major forces for renewal in modern young adult fiction," the jury said, citing her "psychological depth."
The jury also highlighted her "linguistic virtuosity and a brilliant narrative technique."
Hartnett, born 1968 in Melbourne, was selected out of 155 candidates from 61 countries for the prize. She made her debut at 15 with Trouble All the Way and has written 18 novels, mainly in the teen and young adult fiction genre although she "generally prefers not to specify which age group she is writing for," the jury said.
In 2002 she won the Guardian Children's Literature Prize in Britain for Thursday's Child.
Her latest novel is The Ghost's Child.
Jury member Stefan Casta told Swedish radio that Hartnett was "one of the most exciting authors that write for young adults."
Casta, an author and member of the Swedish Academy of Children's Books, said Hartnett's stories were "very strong and moving" and really "crawl under your skin."
Like Lindgren, she "always sides with the child," he said of Hartnett whose works have been been translated into several languages including Danish, German, Swedish, Italian and Chinese.
The prize is one of the largest literary awards for children and young people, and is worth 5 million kronor (790,000 dollars).
It was created in 2002 by the Swedish government to award writers, illustrators of literature for children and young people and those who promote reading through work that reflects the spirit of the Swedish author Lindgren who died 2002 at age 94.
Last year, the book bank Banco del Libro of Venezuela was awarded the prize for its efforts to promote reading.
The announcement Wednesday was made in the town Vimmerby in southern Sweden, where Lindgren spent her childhood. Crown Princess Victoria was slated to preside at the May 28 award ceremony at the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm.
In 2006, the prize was awarded to US author Katherine Paterson for her stories about "vulnerable young people."
Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai and British author Philip Pullman shared the award in 2005, Brazilian author Lygia Bojunga won in 2004, while Austrian author Christine Nostlinger and US author and illustrator Maurice Sendak shared the prize when it was first awarded in 2003.