Dylan is the first songwriter to have won the prize, and his regular appearance in the betting odds was regarded as one of the longrunning jokes of the Nobels.
In 2011, a late gamble sent him soaring up the odds to become the fourth favourite, due to what Ladbrokes described as “a substantial gamble from clued-up literary fans”.
In her citation, Sara Danils said that though the choice might seem surprising, “if you look far back, 5000 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. We still read Homer and Sappho, and we enjoy it.”
Bob Dylan is the 259th American to have won a Nobel, across all disciplines, and the first to win the literature prize since Toni Morrison in 1993. He is the ninth American to gain the literary laurels since the medals were founded in 1901.
Sara Danius, permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, describes Dylan as “A great sampler … and for 54 years he has been at it, reinventing himself.”
Start with Blonde on Blonde, she said… “An extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming. putting together refrains, and his brilliant way of thinking.”
US Nobel laureates in literature
Sinclair Lewis, 1930
Eugene Gladstone O’Neill, 1936
Pearl Buck, 1938
TS Eliot, 1948
William Faulkner, 1949
Ernest Miller Hemingway, 1954
John Steinbeck, 1962
Toni Morrison, 1993