|Bob Dylan by Eugenio|
Nobel panel gives up knockin’
on Dylan’s doorDays after being awarded the literature prize, Bob Dylan has yet to get in touch with the Swedish Academy, or indicate whether he will attend the celebrations
Staff and agencies
Monday 17 October 2016 16.32 BST
The Swedish Academy says it has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, days after it awarded him the Nobel prize in literature.
“Right now we are doing nothing. I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies. For now, that is certainly enough,” the academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, told state radio SR on Monday.
So far the American troubadour has responded with silence since he won the prize on Thursday.
He gave a concert in Las Vegas that very night, but made no mention of the accolade.
In what may have been a veiled allusion to his long-term reputation for what some have called perversity, and others an admirably dogged persistence in forging his own path, Dylan’s set ended with a cover of Frank Sinatra’s Why Try to Change Me Now.
So – as a famous Dylan song may have put it to the Nobel committee – how does it feel?
“I am not at all worried,” said Danius. “I think he will show up.”
Every 10 December, Nobel prize winners are invited to Stockholm to receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf and to give a speech during a banquet.
“If he doesn’t want to come, he won’t come. It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him,” said Danius.
Dylan, 75, whose lyrics have influenced generations of fans, is the first songwriter to win the literature prize. Other contenders included Salman Rushdie, Syrian poet Adonis and Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
The award caused some controversy, particularly among writers arguing that the literary merits of Dylan’s work are not equal to those of some of his peers.
Referring to the American snack firm, Lebanese novelist Rabih Alameddine tweeted: “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel in Literature is like Mrs Fields being awarded 3 Michelin stars.”
The French Moroccan writer Pierre Assouline was even more irate, describing the decision “contemptuous of writers”.
Other authors were more ambivalent. On Monday, Karl Ove Knausgaard told the Guardian: “I’m very divided. I love that the novel committee opens up for other kinds of literature – lyrics and so on. I think that’s brilliant. But knowing that Dylan is the same generation as Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, makes it very difficult for me to accept it. I think one of those three should have had it, really. But if they get it next year, it will be fine.”
Dylan’s songwriting peer and friend Leonard Cohen suggested on Thursday that no prizes were necessary to recognise the greatness of the man who transformed pop music with records like Highway 61 Revisited. “To me,” he said, “[the Nobel] is like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.”
Dylan has toured consistently since 1988, and concludes his current leg on 23 November – so at least the musician will be free on the date of the Nobel’s big bash.
As to whether he will attend, however, the answer is blowing in the wind.