No Nobel prize money for Dylan?

Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan.

STOCKHOLM • Many writers might give their right arm to be paid almost US$1 million (S$1.4 million) to deliver a lecture. But Bob Dylan's silence since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature might mean he never sees the award money.

The American singer-songwriter, a cultural icon of dissent and protest from the 1960s, has said nothing about the award, announced two weeks ago.

But under Nobel rules, the winner must give one lecture on literature - or in Dylan's case, even a concert - within six months to receive the US$900,000 prize money. Swedish writer Per Wastberg, a member of the Swedish Academy that presents the award, said last week that Dylan's silence is "rude and arrogant".

The Nobel Foundation does not accept any rejections of the prize - Dylan's name will be listed as the winner this year, whatever he says.

But the award money is a different matter. As a condition, Dylan, 75, must give a lecture on a subject "relevant to the work for which the prize has been awarded" no later than six months after Dec 10, the anniversary of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel's death.

"That is what we ask for in return," said Ms Jonna Petterson, spokesman for the foundation, adding that Dylan could also opt to give a concert instead of a lecture. "Yes, we are trying to find an arrangement that suits the laureate (Dylan)."

The lecture need not be delivered in Stockholm. When British novelist Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize in 2007, she was too ill to travel. Instead, she composed a lecture and sent it to her Swedish publisher, who read it out at a ceremony in the Swedish capital.

Over the years, only six laureates have declined the prize. One of them was French existentialist author Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964. After Sartre fell on hard times a few years later, his lawyer wrote to the foundation asking it to send Sartre the money. It refused.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'No Nobel prize money for Dylan?'. Print Edition | Subscribe