THERE is only one issue to be raised following the announcement by the Nobel prizegivers over the weekend that American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has picked up their award for literature ...

Why did it take them so long?

Okay, we know that things move slowly in Sweden, where the prestigious academy that hands out these gongs is based.

But even so, it is remiss of them to have waited till Dylan -- 75 years old and a little raggedy around the edges -- is no longer "forever young".


The announcement that a songwriter -- poet, if you like -- had slipped in ahead of those writers who need a thousand pages to make a point has created a minor kerfuffle of the kind that has always followed Dylan's career.

It's all been a bit like the 60s, with worthy scribblers lining up to lambast the academy for its apparently controversial choice.

At least Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, of Trainspotting fame, admitted to being a Dylan fan as he described the selection as "an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies".

His best bit of writing in some years ... and it came out on Twitter.

On the same theme, French novelist Pierre Assouline thought the decision was "une joke".

However, Salman Rushdie -- himself no bad crooner -- welcomed the verdict.

"Great choice -- from Orpheus to (Pakistani poet) Faiz, song and poetry have been closely linked," he said, adding: "Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition."

Those who believe Dylan's words do not add up to "literature" should consider the following:

Hurricane is storytelling on a par with War and Peace; The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll captures social injustice with as much venom as Dickens; and Desolation Row may well prove to be a subtle reworking of Shakespeare's The Tempest, if we are ever able to decipher what it all means.