Bob Dylan: First Musician Ever to Win Nobel Prize in Literature

Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature–the first American to win the top honor since Toni Morrison in 1993 and the first musician to be recognized.

Filmmaker Todd Haynes celebrated the legendary singer-song writer in his original biopic, I’m Not There, in which Cate Blanchett played one of Dylan’s personalities.


The iconic singer-songwriter, who is 75, was honored for his intricate, evocative lyrics, and for his alternately political and phantasmagoric anthems such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Forever Young,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” “Rainy Day Women#12 & 35,” and  “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Dylan joins the ranks of  prestigious laureates, such as William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, Saul Bellow, William Butler Yeats, and Ernest Hemingway.

In selecting Dylan, the Nobel committee praised the singer and songwriter “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” His prize comes with 8 million Swedish kronor, which roughly equals $900,000. He will be honored in Stockholm, Sweden, in December.

 Dylan’s selection is a break with tradition: Though he has authored a book of poem, a collection of writings and drawings, and an acclaimed memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One,” the bulk of his writing has been the songs he popularized. Typically, the Nobel is awarded to poets or authors of short stories and novels.

Dylan’s victory also comes in lieu of Philip Roth, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo, all of whom were mentioned among the top contenders for the literary prize.

Dylan’s work draws on myriad influences. He first came to prominence as a folk singer, building on the tradition of Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. As his career continued, he has worked in many genres, from gospel to country to rock and roll, even releasing an album of Christmas songs.

“Whatever you do. You ought to be the best at it – highly skilled,” Dylan told the Rolling Stone in 2012. “It’s about confidence, not arrogance. You have to know you’re the best whether anybody else tells you or not. And that you’ll be around, in one way or another, longer than anybody else.”