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Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Literature Prize

The singer-songwriter becomes the first American to win since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993

Rolling Stone India Oct 13, 2016
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Bob Dylan. Photo: Press image

Bob Dylan. Photo: Press image

Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature today for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy.

Announced earlier today, Dylan becomes the first songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, a distinction that has been previously reserved for poets, authors, playwrights and essayists ranging from Rabindranath Tagore and Winston Churchill to Jean-Paul Sartre and Orhan Pamuk.

There has, however, been a conflict regarding Dylan’s work as it does not sit with the novels, poems and short stories that the prize has traditionally recognized. The Guardian reports that there was a delay in announcing the award as well, which set off rumors. One Swedish editor said the delay meant there was probably “a disagreement in the process to select a winner.”

“Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience,” Bill Wyman wrote in a 2013 Op-Ed essay in The New York Times arguing the case for  Dylan  getting the award. “His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

Dylan began his musical career in 1959, playing in coffee houses in Minnesota and his music was a way of conveying the message of America’s troubles. His 1962 song “Blowin’ In The Wind” has been described as a protest song about peace, war and freedom. In an interview with Sign Out!! in 1962 Dylan said, “I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many … You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.” 1964’s “The Times Are a-Changin’” has been influential to peoples view on society. Dylan’s work preached about anti-war and civil rights movements.

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Dylan is set to perform at the Desert Trip festival in Indio, California on October 14th, alongside the likes of Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Neil Young, just days after winning this prestigious laureate.

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