Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature, First Person Honored for Songwriting
Music| | By Sara Wilkins
Rock legend Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The “Mr. Tambourine Man” musician, 75, was announced as the winner of the coveted accolade on Thursday. Professor Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, the organization who decide each year’s winner, said Dylan had been awarded the prize, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
The folk rocker, born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, is the 113th recipient of the Literature Nobel and will receive $907,211 in prize money,
The singer, who took his stage name from the poet Dylan Thomas, began his music career in 1959 in his home state of Minnesota, and he went on to write some of the most potent counter-culture anthems of the 1960s including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”
Over a musical career spanning almost six decades he has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.
The naming of Dylan as this year’s Nobel Laureate in Literature means he is the first contemporary rock musician to win the prize, and the first person to be honored for songwriting.
Justifying the choice of the rock star rather than a writer, Danius said, “If you look far back, 5000 years, you discover Homer and Sappho (Ancient Greek poets). They wrote poetic texts which were meant to be performed, and it’s the same way for Bob Dylan.”
In addition to being the first rocker to win the award, Dylan is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison in 1993. Previous winners also include authors Doris Lessing, Gabriel García Márquez and Ernest Hemingway.
The new accolade comes after he was awarded with the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.
He has also won 12 Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, both for Best Original Song, for his track “Things Have Changed” from the film Wonder Boys.
The singer is due to perform later at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel on Wednesday.