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‘Dylan did not deserve Nobel’

Published: October 15, 2016, 10:13 am

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    Some writers are unhappy about the Swedish Academy’s decision to award the Nobel prize for literature to Bob Dylan as Twitter exploded into a verbal ping-pong after the announcement.

    The Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius told reporters on Thursday that the choice may appear surprising, but that Dylan deserved the award because he is “a great poet – a great poet in the English speaking tradition.”

    While British author Salman Rushdie and bestselling writer Stephen King praised the choice, some French and American literary figures were less enthusiastic.

    Not all negative commentators relied on personal taste or social politics: several noticed a category error in the awarding of this prize.

    The prize went to Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, although his output is not “work in the field of literature” as Dylan is a musician.

    Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg gushed that “He is probably the greatest living poet”, but French author Pierre Assouline railed against the Academy’s decision in an opinion piece titled “The Nobel gives the finger to American literature”. He called the choice “disappointing” and condemned the committee for not choosing “a true” poet.

    Other French writers also expressed their dissatisfaction. French writer and translator Claro mockingly tweeted: “Bob Dylan? What a relief, I was afraid it would be Julio Iglesias”.

    She later added: “The times they really are a-changin’”.

    Award-winning American satyrist Gary Shteyngart ripped into the Swedish panel: “I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard” while editorialist and novelist Anna North called the Academy’s pick “disappointing”.

    “Bob Dylan does not need a Nobel Prize in Literature, but literature needs a Nobel Prize. This year, it won’t get one,” North said.

    President Barack Obama was among the first to congratulate one of his “favourite poets” on his “well-deserved award” in a tweet, following the announcement in Stockholm on Thursday.

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