Annual Award

Swedish writer Carina Rydberg is the recipient of the 2023 Stig Dagerman Award for her unrelenting literary honesty and belief in the power of words.

The annual Stig Dagerman Award, issued by the Dagerman Society and the Älvkarleby Municipality, was first given in 1996 to a victim of bullying. It was inspired by Dagerman’s poem En dag om året/For one day a year that sets forth a vision of peace by imagining one day each year when the world is free from violence.

En dag om året borde alla låtsas
att döden vilar i ett vitt schatull.
For one day a year, let’s make believe
that Death lies dormant in a lacquered box.

The Dagerman Award is given to a person who, or an organization that, in the spirit of Stig Dagerman, supports the significance and availability of the “free word” (freedom of speech), promotes empathy and inter-cultural understanding. The recipient receives 50,000 SEK from the Älvkarleby Municipality.

The Dagerman Society has gained much notoriety for giving the Stig Dagerman Award to a literary giant like Amos Oz; and by happenstance selecting two authors (Elfriede Jelinek and J.M.G. Le Clézio) who later—in December—the same year, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature!

There are many well-known recipients of the Stig Dagerman Award like Swedish filmmakers Lukas Moodysson and Roy Andersson, as well as Turkish writer Yasar Kemal, the Iranian poet Ahmad Shamloo, and British journalist Gitta Sereny. The list goes on. For more info in Swedish, see www.dagerman.se.



Carina Rydberg, author

Swedish writer Carina Rydberg receives the Stig Dagerman Award for her unrelenting literary honesty and belief in the power of words. In 2022, after a long period of silence, she published a new novel, Vitt slödder, to much acclaim.


Maryja Kalesnikava, musician and political activist

The Belarusian musician and political activist Maryja Kalesnikava is the recipient of the 2022 Stig Dagerman Award for her outstanding courage in the fight for the democratic rights of the individual against the criminal power and a state that, instead of protecting its citizens, persecutes and imprisons them.


No award given


Magda Gad, journalist

Swedish war journalist Magda Gad receives the 2020 Stig Dagerman Award for her multifaceted and profound reporting that provides a much needed alternative in today’s black&white and polarized media. … Her ambition to dig deep and avoid oversimplification in dialogues about power and powerless, about politics and the individual, bears a close relationship to the type of literary journalism provided by Stig Dagerman from Europe at the end of WWII.


Britta Marakatt-Labba, textile artist

Britta Marakatt-Labba receives the Dagerman Award for her part mythical, part realistic, rebellious embroidered images that depict the history and contemporary life of the Sámi people of northern Europe.


Amos Oz, Israeli writer, novelist, journalist and intellectual

Amos Oz receives the Dagerman Award for his humanistic, diverse oeuvre exploring human vulnerability and, given the turbulent history of Israel, for his advocacy for peace and coexistence in the drawn-out Israel/Palestine conflict.


Anders Kompass , Swedish UN whistle-blower

Anders Kompass receives the Dagerman Award for his courage, and disregard for personal consequences, speaking up for the children of the Central African Republic who were sexually violated by UN forces.


Adonis, Syrian-Lebanese poet

Adonis receives the Dagerman Award for his body of work where passion for Arabic poetry, beyond the claims of religious or political currents, uncovers the liberating essence of the art form.


Suzanne Osten, Swedish writer, director, filmmaker

Suzanne Osten receives the Dagerman Award for her groundbreaking work with children’s theater elevating its status both in Sweden and abroad.


Anders Bodegard, translator from French and Polish into Swedish

Anders Bodegard receives the Dagerman Award for his remarkable and influential oeuvre of translations where he builds a bridge between different cultural and language identities.


Ingen Människa Är Illegal (No One Is Illegal)

Ingen Människa Är Illegal (No One Is Illegal) is a Swedish youth network whose mission is to help illegal immigrants to Sweden stay in the country. IMÄI receives the award because its members act in the deeply humanist spirit of Stig Dagerman; bravely going against the grain and incorporating methods of civil disobedience to show solidarity with those of us who are the most vulnerable and without rights. Read more.


Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian human rights activist, writer, and psychiatrist

Nawal El Saadawi receives the Dagerman Award as she through her life-long commitment is demonstrating the meaning of freedom, its goals and its obligations, thus provoking insight to all of us into the essence and price of freedom.

2011 Judit Benedek/SOS Romer
2010 Eduardo Galeano, Uruguyan writer, poet, journalist and activist
2009 Birgitta Wallin, translator, and editor of the intercultural Swedish magazine “Karavan”

J.M.G. Le Clézio, French writer

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio fills the white paper of his books with the most beautiful combinations of words that spring from an acute awareness of the unjust and unnecessary conditions of the most vulnerable and rejected of people. In his literary testimony, we can all see ourselves, our time, our place, our own vulnerability and our freedom.

2007 Lasse Berg, Swedish journalist
2006 Sigrid Kahle, Swedish journalist

Göran Palm, Swedish writer

Göran Palm receives the Dagerman Award for his writing that has deepened and expanded the reach of free expression to voices that we have never before been able to be heard.


Elfriede Jelinek, Austrian writer

Elfriede Jelinek receives the Dagerman Award because of her writing that so completely expresses our times. In her extensive text-surfaces Heidegger meets CNN and Greek gods are paired with modern day icons; her writing is one that borrows and steals, connects and breaks apart; writing where myth is deconstructed and even Disney’s chipmunks get their own essay. Everything is executed through a frontal attack of language that allows surface to become depth and depth to become surface in order to provoke us to become participants, to take a position, to THINK.

2003 Lukas Modysson, Swedish filmmaker
2002 Gitta Sereny, British historian and journalist
2001 Elise Johansson, Swedish writer
2000 Roy Andersson, Swedish filmmaker
1999 Ahmad Shamlou, Iranian poet
1998 The Swedish Public (“People’s”) Library

Yasar Kemal, Turkish writer

Writer and journalist Yasar Kemal receives the Dagerman Award for having used his words and language, relentlessly without compromise for half a century, as a possible human path toward lasting peace and freedom.

1996 John Hron, young victim of hate crime in Sweden

En dag om året

En dag om året

En dag om året borde alla låtsas,
att döden vilar i ett vitt schatull.
Inga stora illusioner krossas
och ingen skjuts för fyra dollar skull.

Världskatastrofen sover lugnt och stilla
mellan lakan på ett snyggt hotell.
Inget rep gör någon broder illa,
och ingen syster slumrar vid ett slutet spjäll.

Inga män blir plötsligt sönderbrända
och ingen dör på gatorna just då.
Visst är det lögn, det kan väl hända.
Jag bara säger: Vi kan låtsas så.

One Day A Year

For one day a year, let’s make believe
that Death lies dormant in a lacquered box.
No grand illusions get blown to smithereens,
and for five dollars’ sake, no one gets shot.

World Calamity lies sound asleep, calm
between sheets in a first class hotel.
No rope encumbers a brother’s breath,
and no sister slumbers by a gas-filled vent.

No men are suddenly charred by fire,
and no one dies in the streets right then.
It is all lies, of course, but I maintain:
for one day a year, let’s just pretend.

Stig Dagerman, February 23, 1954.

Translation Lo Dagerman in collaboration with Nancy N. Carlson and Brian Levy.