By Hayden Wright
Folk rock pioneer Bob Dylan has won an international honor usually reserved for novelists, poets and short story writers: The Nobel Prize for Literature. He’s the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison collected the honor in 1993, and his win marks a new pinnacle of recognition for lyricists.
“Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Swedish Academy said in a biographical note. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’ As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.”
In addition to recognizing his lyrics, which documented seismic cultural shifts of the Beat Generation, the Swedish Academy praised his stature in the music world.
“Since the late 1980’s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the ‘Never-Ending Tour.’ Dylan has the status of an icon,” the Academy said. “His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”
Dylan joins William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and other American literary icons who have received the honor.