Bob Dylan arrives in Stockholm to accept Nobel prize

The songwriter has until June 10 to deliver his Nobel prize lecture, or risk losing the $1.2 million prize money.
The songwriter has until June 10 to deliver his Nobel prize lecture, or risk losing the $1.2 million prize money.

STOCKHOLM • After months of controversy, Bob Dylan is in Stockholm to finally grab his Nobel literature prize in a meeting with the Swedish Academy, which gave him the award for his poetry.

The first songwriter to receive the prestigious award, Dylan has joined the league of Nobel laureates, including Thomas Mann, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Doris Lessing.

At a secret time and place, the famously reclusive Dylan is to receive his Nobel diploma and medal in a closed meeting with the members of the Swedish Academy, which elects the winners of the literature prize.

"The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the academy will attend, all according to Dylan's wishes," Ms Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the academy, said in a blog post.

The 75-year-old rock enigma was set to perform concerts yesterday and today in Stockholm, the first stop on a long-planned European tour.

But he will not give the traditional Nobel lecture during the meeting, the only requirement to receive the eight million kronor (S$1.2 million) that comes with the prize.

"If you want something to go towards a certain direction, then he will go towards the opposite direction. This is what he's done in his entire career," Mr Martin Nystrom, a music critic at the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, said. "He's very unpredictable."

The clock is ticking for Dylan, who has until June 10 to deliver his lecture, which could be anything from a short speech to a performance, a video broadcast or even a song.

Failing that, he risks losing the prize money.

"The academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point," Ms Danius said, without specifying an exact date.

The songwriter of Blowin' In The Wind, Hurricane and Mr Tambourine Man was honoured "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", the Nobel committee said when the award was announced in October last year.

"Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, 'Are my songs literature?'" Dylan said later in a thank-you speech read aloud by the US ambassador to Sweden during the December Nobel ceremony in Stockholm, which he snubbed due to "pre-existing commitments".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Bob Dylan arrives in Stockholm to accept Nobel prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe