Bob Dylan, Nobel F*cking Laureate

IMAGE Don Hunstein

Who is the Nobel Laureate for Literature this year?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

When the British-based betting and gambling company Ladbrokes released the odds for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Bob Dylan wasn’t even on their list. As of earlier today, the Guardian reported that Ladbrokes had Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o leading the pack at 7/2; with contemporary Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and Syrian poet tied at 6/1.

We should’ve known that it was going to be a surprise, because of the delay in announcing the Literature prize—which is normally announced the same week as Nobel Prizes in science, which, The Guardian speculated, might have signaled a “schism” among the voting body.

The result is indeed a landmark. Dylan is the first songwriter to win the prize, though the Swedish Academy’s citation reminds us of the connection between songwriting and poetry: “The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said in her remarks that the ancient tradition of poet-as-songwriter stretches as far back as Homer and Sappho: “They wrote poetic texts which were meant to be performed, and it’s the same way for Bob Dylan.”


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Kristine Fonacier
Former editor-in-chief of Esquire Philippines
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