Bob Dylan wins 2016 Nobel Prize in literature

By Julian Robinson

Bob Dylan has been named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. Photo / AP
Bob Dylan has been named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. Photo / AP

Bob Dylan has been named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature - the first time the prestigious award has been given to someone primarily seen as a musician.

The 75-year-old US songwriter had created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition', according to the Swedish Academy.

Dylan had been mentioned in the Nobel speculation for years, but few experts expected the academy to extend the prestigious award to a genre such as pop music.

The choice was met by gasps and a long round of applause from journalists attending the prize announcement.

Academy permanent secretary Sara Danius said that while Dylan performs his poetry in the form of songs, that's no different from the ancient Greeks, whose works were often performed to music.

"Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear," she said. "But it's perfectly fine to read his works as poetry."

The Nobel award is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings as Robert Allen Zimmerman, born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, who taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano.

Last year, the prize went to Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, for her documentary-style narratives based on witness testimonies.

Dylan will take home the eight million kronor prize sum.

The singer grew up in a Jewish middle-class family. He's the first American winner of the Nobel literature prize since Toni Morrison in 1992.

By his early 20s, he had taken the folk music world by storm. Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin became anthems for the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s.

Dylan was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his contributions to music and American culture.

The literature award caps the 2016 Nobel season, following more than a week of announcements for the prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and peace, with the latter going to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end a half-century war with the FARC rebels.

The 2016 laureates will receive their awards - a gold medal and a diploma - at a formal ceremony in Stockholm as tradition dictates on December 10, the anniversary of the death of prize creator Alfred Nobel.

A separate ceremony is held in Oslo for the peace prize laureate on the same day, as the Norwegian Nobel Committee grants that award.

- Daily Mail

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