What did Bob Dylan say about Nobel win? The answer is still blowin’ in the wind

Bob Dylan’s silence could prove embarrassing for the Swedish Academy, which has faced some criticism for its decision to award the Nobel prize to a songwriter for the first time


The new poet laureate of rock’n’roll played to a packed house in Las Vegas on Thursday night. Photo: Reuters
The new poet laureate of rock’n’roll played to a packed house in Las Vegas on Thursday night. Photo: Reuters

Stockholm: More than 24 hours after awarding Bob Dylan the Nobel prize for literature, the Swedish Academy said Friday they had still not managed to speak to the reclusive US singer.

“The Academy has spoken to Dylan’s agent and his tour manager,” the Academy’s chancellor Odd Zschiedrich told AFP. But as yet they have not spoken directly to Dylan himself, he said.

“It’s happened several times—even in modern times—that we haven’t been able to speak to the laureate immediately,” Zschiedrich said.

Dylan’s silence could prove embarrassing for the Academy, which has faced some criticism for its decision to award the prize to a songwriter for the first time—although reactions from the literary world have been mostly positive.

The new poet laureate of rock’n’roll played to a packed house in Las Vegas on Thursday night, hours after seeing off favourites including Britain’s Salman Rushdie to become the first American to win the literature Nobel since Toni Morrison in 1993.

But fans hoping for a gushing response to the win were disappointed—true to his usual taciturn form, Dylan uttered not a word between songs, leaving the world to keep guessing what he thought about his elevation to the pantheon of literature.

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According to the Washington Post, which contacted people close to the 75-year-old star: “Dylan remained silent throughout the day about the award”.

One of his friends, singer Bob Neuwirth, told the Post: “He may not even acknowledge it.”

Each year, Nobel laureates are invited to Stockholm on 10 December to receive their award from the Swedish king and give a speech at a banquet.

But for the moment the Academy does not know whether Dylan plans to come and collect his eight million kronor ($906,000 or €822,000) prize.

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He would not be the first literature laureate to fail to turn up.

In 1964 the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre refused the literature prize as soon as he was told he had won it, rejecting the 273,000 kronors awarded at the time.

The 1970 winner, the dissident Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, did not attend the award ceremony in Stockholm for fear he would not be allowed back into the Soviet Union afterwards.

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He collected his prize at the 1974 ceremony, after he had been expelled from the Soviet Union.

The 2004 winner, Austrian novelist Elfriede Jelinek, also declined to collect her prize in person, citing her social phobia. “I cannot stand public attention, I just can’t,” she said at the time.

She addressed the ceremony by video message.

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