NEW YORK • The Nobel Prize in literature may be the world's most important literary award, but not every winner can make it to the ceremony.
Among the reasons given by past laureates for failing to travel to Stockholm to accept the award: being gravely ill and in a wheelchair (Harold Pinter, 2005); and being so anxious and agoraphobic that you are "not suited as a person to be dragged into public" (Elfriede Jelinek, 2004). Bob Dylan's excuse? "Pre-existing commitments."
Last month, the Swedish Academy, which awards the literature Nobel, announced that the songwriter would be this year's laureate.
But he has proved to be elusive. He did not seem to immediately appreciate the honour , not to mention the eight-million krona (S$1.2-million) cheque that comes with it. For nearly two weeks, he declined to take calls from the academy or call back. He briefly identified himself as the Nobel winner on his website. It was not until Oct 28, in an interview with a British newspaper, that he made his first public comments about the award to say he was accepting the Nobel.
The same day, the academy said he had called them to acknowledge the award.
But he then refused to commit to attending the award ceremony on Dec 10. On Wednesday, his decision appeared on the academy website, which read: "Yesterday evening, the Swedish Academy received a personal letter from Bob Dylan, in which he explained that due to pre-existing commitments, he is unable to travel to Stockholm in December and therefore will not attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony."