Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, bringing the second triumph for America in the category. The first American laureate in Literature was Toni Morrison in 1993.

The academy thought outside the box when awarding Dylan because the prize usually goes to novelists, poets, and writers. The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan became the winner of the literature prize Thursday for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the Swedish Academy.

The prize will be formally presented to Dylan and other winners on Dec. 10. Image Credit: NBC News

Being awarded the Nobel means that Bob Dylan just won 8 million Swedish kronor, which are $900,000.

Sara Danius was the one behind the decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to Mr. Dylan. She is a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy. Ms. Danius considers the artist “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” and even compared him to Homer and his artistic abilities.

The literature prize is given to an artist, not for a particular work but a lifetime of writing. Ms. Danius was asked if from now on the standards to be nominated for the prize are changing, and she answered with a fragment of Bob Dylan’s song: “The times they are a changing, perhaps.”

Bob Dylan has recorded several albums that discuss the social condition of man, religion, politics and love, and as an artist, he has proved to be versatile. Dylan not only dedicated his life to writing songs and sing them, but he also explored the worlds of painting, acting and writing scripts, and stories.

Dylan experimented with poetry in his work “Tarantula,” a 1971 collection of prose poetry. Also in poetry, the famous singer published “Writings and Drawings,” a 1973 compilation.

The Academy stated that Dylan, since the late 1980s, has consistently been on tour, becoming an icon. “His influence on the contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”

Among Dylan’s many albums are “Bringing It All Back Home” (1965), “Blood on Tracks” (1975), “Time Out of Mind” (1997), and “Modern Times” (2006). The Swedish Academy described them as having “a tremendous impact on modern music.

Dylan’s award was unexpected but well deserved, considering his work and professional career

Bob Dylan was not among the general speculation about who will be the next laureate with the Nobel Prize in Literature. Instead, a diverse list of possible nominees included American novelist Don DeLillo, the Kenyan playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Syrian poet known as Adonis, and Japanese author Haruki Murakami.  Others being considered as possible winners were Spanish novelist Javier Marías, the South Korean poet Ko Un, and Albanian writer Ismail Kadare.

Previous Nobel winners in the Literature category include remarkable writers like William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Rudyard Kipling, and Gabriel García Marquez, but never a singer.

Ms. Danius stated that Dylan is an original sampler and added: “For 54 years from now, he’s been at it, and reinventing himself constantly, reinventing himself, creating a new identity.”

Bob Dylan has been confirmed not only by the Swedish Academy as an important artist, but he has also been recognized at the Grammy Awards, Academy, and Golden Globe awards, and in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Mr. Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. President Obama stated in a White House ceremony that Dylan’s voice, its weight, and its unique, gravelly power, redefined not only what music sounded like, but the message in carried and how it made people feel. 

The President continued and said that everybody from Bruce Springsteen to U2 owes Bob Dylan “a debt of gratitude. “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music. All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound, still searching for a little bit of truth…”, Obama said about the singer’s achievements.

Bob Dylan has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and people had very mixed reactions to the news. Image Credit: Goss

About Bob Dylan and his notorious career

Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. Since his adolescence, he started to play in bands under the influence of folk music, including Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets. His real name was Robert Allen Zimmerman.

The Swedish Academy released a bio-bibliographical note on the laureate and said the singer considers himself a Christian, although he was born in a Jewish home. Dylan even has albums dedicated to his religion.  

When he was 20 years old, Dylan moved to New York and began to perform his music in clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village. And, the following year, 1962, he managed to sign a contract. John Hammond was Dylan’s first record producer and launched Zimmerman’s debut album titled: “Bob Dylan.”

Social justice, humanity, and other subjects started to appear in Dylan’s songs, and people heard his art at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He performed “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” which talks about iconic civil rights activists Medgar Evers.

In the 1960s he criticized America’s political system and leftist politics and wrote visionary songs that opened people’s eyes regarding what was wrong in the system. And then his work started to collide with history, literature, the Bible and other subjects that enriched his work as an artist.  

Even if Dylan’s award came as a surprise to many, other people were asking for it. Journalist Bill Wyman wrote an essay in 2013 explaining why Dylan had to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He said that his beautiful lyrics, his concerns, and subjects had influenced more than one generation.

Source: Nobel Prize