This sentence will either infuriate or inspire you: Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. He joins a laureate ranks that includes Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, Kenzaburō Ōe, Samuel Becket and many others.
Dylan, however, is the first musician to ever claim the award and the first American to win since Morrison in 1993.
BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” pic.twitter.com/XYkeJKRfhv
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 13, 2016
Perhaps to preempt the possible criticism of Dylan’s win, the Nobel committee released a statement, saying, Dylan “recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love”
The Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, compared Dylan’s work to that of the ancient Greek poets. “”If you look back, far back, 2,500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, that were meant to be performed, often with instruments—and it’s the same way with Bob Dylan,” she said.
He “is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” she summed up.
Reaction to such news was, unsurprisingly, divided on social media. Some celebrated the win while others demurred about American writers who could possibly have won, like Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and Philip Roth, who famously used to sit in his agent’s office every year awaiting the phone call.
The fact that Bob Dylan is trending because he won a Nobel prize, and not, like, because he was murdered by a clown is honestly a blessing.
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) October 13, 2016
Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize is the first sign — the very first — that there is a light at the end of the 2016 tunnel.
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) October 13, 2016
Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel. https://t.co/c9cnANWPCS
— President Obama (@POTUS44) October 13, 2016
Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature? What's next, Derek Jeter wins a Tony for his rice pilaf???
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) October 13, 2016
Novelists grousing about Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize: green looks hideous on you. #ThereMustBeSomethingHappeningButYouDontKnowWhatItIs #DoYou
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) October 13, 2016
The Guardian’s Alex Needham also reached out to preeminent American novelist Jonathan Franzen for a comment. He responded in true snarky Franzen fashion: “It’s a bitter disappointment to those of us who hoped that Morrissey would win this year. But it gives us hope for next year.”
Dylan was not a favorite coming into Thursday’s announcement. According to Ladbrokes, top contenders included Japanese novelist Haurki Marukami, Kenyan Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, DeLillo, and Spain’s Javier Marías.
Still unsure on your feelings? Maybe these Dylan tracks (hold the blood) will help you decide.
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Posted By: Brendan Bures