Singer songwriter, Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature. The Swedish Academy stated that Dylan won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan is the first American to win the prize since 1993 when it went to novelist Toni Morrison.
While the prize has gone to a range of stylistically diverse writers, the announcement was a surprise to many in the literary community since Dylan’s work doesn’t fit traditional literary canons generally recognized by the award. Past winners include Svetlana Alexievich (2015), Patrick Modiano (2014), Alice Munro (2013), Mo Yan (2012), Tomas Transtromer (2011), Mario Vargas Llosa (2010), Herta Muller (2009), Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (2008), Doris Lessing (2007), and Orhan Pamuk (2006).
I do love Dylan and think he’s a brilliant songwriter, but I can’t deny that I was surprised by the decision. I’m not entirely convinced that Dylan’s body of work can compare to the likes of some of the favored names who were mentioned as candidates this year — authors like Don DeLillo, Murakami, Ngugi wa, Ismail Kadare, or Javier Marias. Dylan is the first songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize. However, it’s an interesting decision and one that will likely lead to some interesting discussion about what constitutes literature. Many congratulations to Mr. Dylan.
Dylan is trending on twitter. Here are a few reactions:
What do you think? Does Dylan deserve to win? Why or why not?