Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in literature
American music legend Bob Dylan performs in Shanghai, China, in 2011.
(Philippe Lopez / AFP/Getty Images)
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American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature on
Thursday, a stunning announcement that for the first time bestowed the
prestigious award on a musician.
The Swedish Academy cited Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions
within the great American song tradition."
Reporters and others gathered for the announcement at the academy's
headquarters in Stockholm's Old Town reacted with a loud cheer as his name was
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 popular
The academy's 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."
Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew
up in a Jewish middle-class family. He's the first American winner of the Nobel
literature prize since Toni Morrison in 1992.
Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during the March on Washington
civil rights rally, on Aug. 28, 1963.
(Rowland Scherman / Getty Images)
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 was the last of this year's Nobel Prizes to be announced.
The six awards will be handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder
Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.
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