By Alistair Scrutton and Scott Malone
STOCKHOLM/BOSTON Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his songs from the 1960s onward, on Thursday won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award.The 75-year-old Dylan, who won the prize for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," joins Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel literature laureates.The decision angered some writers who complained that by honoring one of the world's most celebrated musicians the Swedish Academy missed an opportunity to bring attention to lesser-known artists."I’m a Dylan fan, but this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies," wrote Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, best known for his 1993 novel "Trainspotting," on Twitter.Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($928,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: "Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound." The announcement of the award was met with gasps in Stockholm's stately Royal Academy hall, followed by some laughter. Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said: "He is probably the greatest living poet." The late novelist Norman Mailer once commented, "If Dylan's a poet, I'm a basketball player."Other well-known authors praised the decision.
Salman Rushdie, the author of novels including "The Satanic Verses" and "Shalimar the Clown," praised the decision, saying it followed centuries of literary tradition stretching from classical Greece to modern India."From Orpheus to Faiz, song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice," Rushdie said on Twitter.Dylan's songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind", "The Times They Are a-Changin'", "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Like a Rolling Stone" captured the spirit of a generation's rebellion, dissent and independence. The prize is the latest of many accolades for the native of Duluth, Minnesota, who first rose to fame on the streets of New York's Greenwich Village in the 1960s. His albums have won a dozen Grammy Awards, and in 1988 Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.Dylan remained silent on Thursday, making no public comment ahead of a Thursday evening concert in Las Vegas. A Dylan spokesman declined to comment.
For many, his lyrics have resonated for decades."Blowin' in the Wind", written in 1962, was considered one of the most eloquent folk songs of all time. "The Times They Are A-Changin'", in which Dylan told Americans "your sons and your daughters are beyond your command," was an anthem of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.Asked if he thought Dylan's Nobel lecture, traditionally given by the laureate in Stockholm later in the year, would be a concert, replied: "Let's hope so."
He was born into a Jewish family but in the late 1970s converted to Christianity and later said he followed no organized religion. At another point in his life, Dylan took up boxing.Dylan is the first American to win the award since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.Dylan has toured almost continuously since 1988, remaining true to the credo he expressed in "Forever Young," a hit track from his 1974 album, "Planet Waves."Literature was the last of this year's Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prizes are named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.($1 = 8.6231 Swedish crowns) (Additional reporting by Amy Tennery, Johan Sennero, Mia Shanley, Daniel Dickson and Simon Johnson; Editing by Louise Ireland and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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Published Date: Oct 13, 2016 11:01 pm | Updated Date: Oct 13, 2016 11:01 pm