US music legend Bob Dylan, whose poetic lyrics have influenced generations of fans, won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, the first songwriter to win the award in a decision that stunned prize watchers.
The 75-year-old was honoured "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", the Swedish Academy said.
The choice was met by gasps and a long round of spontaneous applause from journalists attending the prize announcement. The folk rock singer had been mentioned in Nobel speculation over the years, but was never seen as a serious contender.
Speculation prior to Thursday's announcement had focused on Syrian poet Adonis and Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o as possible recipients, but reactions to the surprise choice of Dylan were mostly positive. The Academy has been known to push the limits of the definition of literature, honouring Winston Churchill in 1953 for his wartime speeches.
"Sometimes it's someone unknown whom few have read, and sometimes they pick someone who has popular appeal," said Swedish music journalist Stefan Wermelin.
"But this is the first time the prize has gone to a musical form of expression and in that genre Dylan is totally in a class of his own."
But Per Svensson, culture writer at Swedish regional daily Sydsvenskan, described the choice "incredibly depressing" and a "Trumpification" of the prestigious prize to appeal to the masses. And some of the reaction on social media was also biting.
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 13, 2016
Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel. https://t.co/c9cnANWPCS
— President Obama (@POTUS) October 13, 2016
Fellow musicians were jubilant and nostalgic
Congratulations Bob for getting the Nobel prize. What an achievement !@bobdylan
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) October 13, 2016
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) October 13, 2016
— Legacy Recordings (@SonyLegacyRecs) October 13, 2016
Many congratulations to @bobdylan on the Nobel Prize for Literature!
— George Harrison (@GeorgeHarrison) October 13, 2016
Ringo I would like to congratulate Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize for literature peace and love Bob 😎✌️️🌟💖🎶🎵👏☮️
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) October 14, 2016
"Yes to dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free..." for this alone Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize https://t.co/62ZXuabPpb
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) October 13, 2016
And all the songwriters go 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 https://t.co/ZTcvNv3GZd
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) October 13, 2016
The writers were divided
From Orpheus to Faiz,song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.Great choice. #Nobel
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) October 13, 2016
I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.
— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) October 13, 2016
I am ecstatic that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel. A great and good thing in a season of sleaze and sadness.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 13, 2016
Asked about Nobel for Dylan: inspired & original choice. his haunting music & lyrics have always seemed, in the deepest sense, "literary."
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) October 13, 2016
This feels like the lamest Nobel win since they gave it to Obama for not being Bush
— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) October 13, 2016
A lot of people seemed to like the surprise
Novelists grousing about Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize: green looks hideous on you. #ThereMustBeSomethingHappeningButYouDontKnowWhatItIs #DoYou
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) October 13, 2016
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) October 14, 2016
— Bianca Jagger (@BiancaJagger) October 13, 2016
I found out this minute that Bob Dylan, has won the Nobel Prize for literature!! Congratulations to you, Bob! What a great great day!
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) October 13, 2016
Now I can say I've been in a music video of a Nobel Prize winner. Congratulations Bob! https://t.co/j9rxiVhPyM
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) October 13, 2016
Congratulations Bob Dylan.U always been the main man,our poet, & all around cool cat.Are we rolling Bob?You bet we are. Keep it going Bobby
— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) October 13, 2016
While some others seemed to find this funny
Nobel prize judges: "Shall we give it to an obscure Belarussian again?"
"Well it *would* be quite cool to get to meet Bob Dylan"
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) October 13, 2016
I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard.
— Gary Shteyngart (@Shteyngart) October 13, 2016
Bob Dylan didn't win the Nobel Prize for Literature until 2016 because it took 50 years for the committee to figure out what he was saying.
— retrocrush (@retrocrush) October 13, 2016
*bob dylan voice*
i wooonnnn, a nobel, priiiiiize
— jomny sun (@jonnysun) October 14, 2016
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 14, 2016 15:45:31 IST