This morning, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, and a whole host of others probably got up and said, “Wait, we were competing for the Nobel Prize this whole time?” That’s because the committee announced Bob Dylan as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. For better or worse, more people are talking about the prize today than when J. M. G. Le Clézio won it.
Dylan’s selection is extraordinary, and not just because he’s the first-ever musician to win for his song lyrics. He is also the first American author to win the Nobel since Toni Morrison did 23 years ago. Considering how few Americans have won compared to other disciplines and how openly contemptuous the Swedish Academy has been toward American literature, this is a big surprise.
As you might expect, the announcement has created waves. The annual fanboys and girls who ask, “What about [fill in your own non-laureate writer]?” can now add any number of songwriters to their list of grievances. Meanwhile, Twitter is blowing up with Dylan fans quoting lyrics appropriate to the situation.
52 yrs ago, at 3am, where I'm sitting now*, Bob Dylan was told to stop bloody writing Mr Tambourine Man because people were trying to sleep.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 13, 2016
Some authors are cool with the whole thing:
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
Others are crying foul:
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
And still others are just funny:
*throws bob dylan records out window of small yet functional tokyo apartment. opens small bottle of beer*
it's fine. i'm fine.
— Murakami Protagonist (@Murakami_Tweets) October 13, 2016
As for me, my personal pet peeve with the Nobel Literature Prize has been how it has been awarded to playwrights but not filmmakers who write their own scripts. I’m hoping that maybe this award will open the door to someone like Pedro Almodóvar or Asghar Farhadi or the Coen brothers. In the meantime, the former Robert Zimmerman can today look at all the entertainers who won an EGOT and say, “Nobel Prize, bitches!”