By Hayden Wright
It’s official—Bob Dylan has collected his 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. Swedish Academy members said the icon “seemed pleased” by the honor, which puts an end to months of painfully awkward back-and-forth.
Dylan’s selection has been…fraught. First, prominent writers questioned whether Dylan’s work meets the standard of “poetry.” Folk legends like Joan Baez and Tom Waits (and rockers like Bruce Springsteen) hastened to applaud his historic win. The unprecedented triumph started with controversy, and then it just got weird.
It seemed like Bob Dylan didn’t want to accept the award at all. For days after the announcement, he didn’t acknowledge the honor and once he seemed to, the mention was removed from his website. Then began the hemming and hawing about how (or whether) Dylan would accept the award in person (or at all).
First Dylan committed to accepting the award personally “if it’s at all possible.” Then we learned that he wouldn’t attend the ceremony, but would send a speech to acknowledge the award. In his absence, Patti Smith and others honored him at that ceremony and finally, Dylan agreed to accept the award in a closed-door setting. He declined to give a “Nobel Lecture” and no media were invited to the event. To receive the $900,000 prize, he’ll need to deliver that lecture by June — he plans to send in a tape.
Shmuel Burger, a 61-year-old physician and Dylan fan, attended a concert the musician scheduled around the date of his Nobel appointment.
“I think he has said it all already as you heard in the acceptance speech,” he said. “And you know, Dylan didn’t apply for the Nobel prize. People seem to forget that. It wasn’t a competition, he didn’t ask for it, he was bestowed it. It’s not for the giver of a gift to expect something in return.”