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World

How Does it Feel? Nobel Judges Can't Reach Dylan

The Swedish Academy, which bestows the annual honor, says it hasn't been able to reach Dylan since the award was announced last Thursday

Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius speaks to media after announcing that Bob Dylan is awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature during a presser at the Old Stockholm Stock Exchange Building in Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, photo: AP/Jonas Ekstromer
11 months ago

Five days after Bob Dylan was named the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, no one knows how he feels about the prestigious award — not even the Nobel judges.

The Swedish Academy, which bestows the annual honor, says it hasn’t been able to reach Dylan since the award was announced last Thursday.

“We haven’t established direct contact with Bob Dylan yet, but I have spoken to one of his closest associates,” the academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, told journalists in an email on Tuesday.

The academy hopes he will accept the invitation to collect his award at the annual Nobel ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

“It would be delightful if Dylan wanted to come to Stockholm in December, but if he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t want to,” Danius said.

She noted that literature laureates have skipped the ceremony before. Elfriede Jelinek stayed home in 2004, citing a social phobia. Harold Pinter and Alice Munro missed the ceremony in 2005 and 2013, respectively, due to health reasons.

Only two people have declined a Nobel Prize in literature. Boris Pasternak did so under pressure from Soviet authorities in 1958 and Jean-Paul Sartre, who declined all official honors, turned it down in 1964.

Dylan, who is currently on tour in the U.S., hasn’t mentioned the Nobel Prize during his concerts since the announcement.

As of Tuesday, his official webpage made no mention of the prize except in the “books” section, where a post dated Oct. 17 about his lyrics collection “The Lyrics: 1961-2012” noted in all caps that he was a Nobel Prize winner.

Dylan has accepted numerous awards over the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for which he attended a White House ceremony in 2012. But he also has a history of taking his time acknowledging them. In 2013, he became the first rock star voted into the elite American Academy of Arts and Letters, which made him an honorary member. According to executive director Virginia Dajani, the academy informed Dylan of the decision — through his manager, Jeff Rosen — in January of that year. Only in May 2013 did Dylan respond, through his manager.

“I feel extremely honored and very lucky to be included in this pantheon of great individual artists who comprise the (American) Academy of Arts and Letters. I look forward to meeting all of you some time soon,” Dylan, who did not attend the induction ceremony, said in his message.

If he travels to Stockholm for the pomp and circumstance of the Nobel ceremony, it won’t be the first time he receives an award from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf. In 2000, Dylan collected the Polar Music Prize from him.

KARL RITTER

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