Bob Dylan Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

On Thursday, Bob Dylan was named the latest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 75-year-old singer-songwriter was given the award for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

The prestigious literary prize typically awards an artist based on their entire canon, rather than a single work. Over his lifetime, Dylan has released dozens of albums and continues to put out new songs and lyrics to this day. “For fifty-four years now he’s been at it, reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity,” said Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

As the first songwriter to ever be granted the award, Dylan’s win was a major surprise to the literary world. In the past, the Nobel Prize has usually been given to novelists, playwrights, and poets, such as John Steinbeck and Toni Morrison, who was the last American to win the prize in 1993. “If you look far back, five thousand years, you discover Homer and Sappho. They wrote poetic texts which were meant to be performed, and it’s the same way for Bob Dylan,” said Danius.