Patti Smith and a speech by proxy to fill Bob Dylan's void at Nobel ceremony

Patti Smith will perform one of Bob Dylan's best-known songs in his absence during the Nobel prize celebrations.
Patti Smith will perform one of Bob Dylan's best-known songs in his absence during the Nobel prize celebrations. PHOTO: REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (REUTERS, AFP) - Nobel literature laureate Bob Dylan will provide a speech and fellow American singer-songwriter Patti Smith will perform one of his best-known songs in his absence during Stockholm's prize celebrations, the awards body said on Monday (Dec 5).

The 75-year-old, whose lyrics have influenced generations of fans, has had a subdued response to the honour, remaining silent for weeks following the news in October he had won the prize for literature.

"This year's Laureate in Literature, Bob Dylan, will not be participating in the Nobel Week but he has provided a speech which will be read at the banquet," the foundation said in a statement.

Smith will perform "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at the Nobel banquet on Dec 10 while Dylan's speech would also be read out at the event, the Nobel Prize organisers said on Twitter.

Dylan said in the wake of being awarded the 8 million Swedish crown (S$1.24 million) prize that he would accept the award but that he would not attend the ceremony in Stockholm.

Local news agency TT said the speech would be read by Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl.


Other Nobel Prize winners who have not attended the prize ceremony include Britain's Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek of Austria.

Dylan did not say a word about his prize on the day it was announced, October 13, when he was performing in Las Vegas.

The writer of "Blowin' In The Wind", "Like A Rolling Stone", and "Mr Tambourine Man" confined himself to his songs.

The Swedish Academy said it respected Dylan's decision, but that it was "unusual" for a Nobel laureate not to come to Stockholm to accept the award in person.

Asked on October 28 by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper if he would attend the Nobel prize winners' banquet, Dylan said: "Absolutely. If it's at all possible."

Academy member Swedish writer Per Wastberg accused Dylan of being "impolite and arrogant", and said it was "unprecedented" that the academy did not know if Dylan intended to pick up his award. But the first songwriter to win the prestigious award in literature is expected to come to Stockholm early next year.

Nobel laureates are honoured every year on Dec 10 - the anniversary of the death of prize's founder Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, inventor and philanthropist.