Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, in the words of the Swedish Academy.
He is the first American to win the prize since novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993.
Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew up in Hibbing. He played in bands as a teenager, influenced by the folk musician Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets. He moved to New York in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village. The following year, he signed a contract for his debut album, “Bob Dylan” (1962). His many other albums include “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965), “Oh Mercy” (1989), and “Modern Times” (2006).
“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. “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.”
Dylan joins a number of American Jews who have been awarded the literature Nobel. However, unlike him, they were all born abroad: Saul Bellow, born in Canada, won in 1976; Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was born in Poland and wrote in Yiddish, won in 1978; Joseph Brodsky, born in the Soviet Union, won in 1987. © The New York Times News Service