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Bob Dylan becomes rare musician to win a Nobel Prize in Literature

Bob Dylan sings into a microphone.
Xavier Badosa/Flickr
When you think of awards a musician — even a legendary one like Bob Dylan — is likely to win, a Nobel Prize is usually not at the top of that list. Nonetheless, the singer-songwriter can now count the prestigious prize among his awards. On Thursday, the Nobel Committee announced Dylan won in the Literature category “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

The news came as a surprise to many, especially given that Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was considered a a favorite with 4-1 odds, according to the Guardian. Dylan’s odds, on the other hand, were placed at 50-1 as he is the first musician to win the award.

The committee’s decision does make sense, though. As they highlighted, Dylan is not just a talented musician; he’s a poet, albeit in a non-traditional sense. His beautiful lyrics have touched millions and played a big hand in his long and successful career.

BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 13, 2016

That is not to say that Dylan’s win has been without controversy. It was not hard to find naysayers making their opinions known — like Irvine Welsh, for example. The Scottish writer tweeted that while he is a Dylan fan, this year’s award was “an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.”

On the other side, there has been plenty of support for Dylan. Salman Rushdie, a Booker Prize winner, noted in a tweet how long “song [and] poetry have been closely linked.” He applauded the choice and called Dylan “the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.”

Surprisingly, it is unclear how the newly minted Nobel Prize winner feels about winning such a prestigious honor. When contacted by the Associated Press after the announcement, a representative said that he had “no immediate comment.” For someone who is so well-versed with words, you would expect at least something. Perhaps once the news rinks in, he will have a response to the question: “How does it feel?”

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Stephanie Topacio Long
Stephanie Topacio Long is a writer and editor whose writing interests range from business to books. She also contributes to…
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