Though there’d been a lot of buzz in the last few days that this could potentially finally be Don Delillo’s year to win the Nobel Prize in Literature — and to be the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993 — alas, the Nobel Prize in Literature has gone to a very literary American musician. This year’s recipient is Bob Dylan. Surely this news will upset many people expecting the prize to be awarded to someone whose writing becomes bricks of paper as opposed to someone whose writing becomes distinctly nasal sound waves, but “the times they are a’ changing,” as the lyric goes, and “what’s a book?” as perhaps a future lyric will go.
Per the New York Times, the Swedish Academy awarded Dylan the honor for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” In a biographical text that came alongside the announcement, the Swedish Academy tries to emphasize that some of Dylan’s work has become bricks of paper:
Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love. The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title Lyrics… Besides his large production of albums, Dylan has published experimental work like Tarantula (1971) and the collection Writings and Drawings (1973). He has written the autobiography Chronicles (2004), which depicts memories from the early years in New York and which provides glimpses of his life at the center of popular culture.
Meanwhile, the Nobel Prize Twitter account is now going crazy posting Dylan memorabilia:
In case you don’t believe it still, here’s video proof (also from the Nobel’s Twitter) in an interview with Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, who’d just announced the award. When the person interviewing her asks, “Does Bob Dylan really deserve the Nobel prize,” she responds, “Of course he does — he just got it.”
“He is a great poet in the English speaking tradition and a wonderful sampler, a very original sampler. For 54 years now he’s been reinventing himself constantly, creating a new identity,” she says.
The interviewer also asks the very strange question, “He’s not a person who’s very nice and smiley when he gets awards — that doesn’t worry you?” To which Danius responds: “No, I think I have a good message.” She recommends people first start listening to (or reading, she stresses) his music with the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.