When the first word of it came from Stockholm, Sweden in October last year, a great many people understandably couldn’t believe it. America’s most recognizable folk singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has just been honored by the Swedish Academy with the Nobel Prize in Literature, the achievement being described as “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. This made him the first musician to receive the prestigious award and thus a subject of great discussion, especially when the artist – despite expressing appreciation for the honor – chose not to personally receive the award during the official ceremony due to “existing commitments”. But five months after the initial announcement and three after the awarding of the rest, Bob Dylan finally took his Nobel Prize in a private ceremony in Stockholm.
Entertainment Weekly reports that it was a small event the afternoon of Saturday April 1 (local time) wherein the American music legend, who was present at Stockholm for a concert tour, accepted the Prize for Literature named after the eminent Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. Swedish Academy member Klas Ostergren reported that the private awarding was done at a hotel that stood next to the venue of Dylan’s concert to be held later that same night.
Ostergren and the official Nobel Prize website noted that the ceremony “went well”, and described the awardee as “a very nice, kind man”. The Nobel Prize site homepage describes the ceremony thus: “Bob Dylan received his medal and diploma this weekend during a meeting with members of the Swedish Academy…Stockholm was the first stop on Dylan and his band’s 2017 tour, and the meeting took place in connection with his concert.”
During the official Nobel Prize awarding ceremony that was held in December 16, 2016 another singing contemporary of Dylan’s, Patti Smith, stood for him in accepting the award after her tribute performance of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs. His banquet speech in turn was delivered by the US Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji. The “heartfelt” speech had Dylan apologizing to the attendees for not being there in person, but that he’s honored all the same for being chosen to receive the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. He also acknowledged how his reading of some of the greatest literary legends (and Nobel Prize for Literature laureates) Rudyard Kipling and Pearl Buck have made their own inspirations in his eventual songwriting, which is now a subject of awe for him to be counted as one of their peers.
Not everyone’s happy with the awarding of a Nobel for Bob Dylan however, with some conventional authors making jokes like Hari Kunzru comparing it to “Obama winning the (2009) Peace Prize for ‘not being Bush’” and the question of whether Jodi Picoult could “win a Grammy” for her book.
Photo courtesy of timesofindia.indiatimes.com