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BLOG: Sweden's Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

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BLOG: Sweden's Nobel Prize in Literature 2016
Bob Dylan pictured in 2015. Photo: Vince Bucci/AP
11:35 CEST+02:00
Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Local reported live from the announcement in Stockholm.

15:20 See you in December

Well, that's it for another year of Nobel Prize announcements, but the party isn't quite over yet. In a couple of months all of 2016's newly named Nobel Laureates will gather for the awards ceremony and Nobel Banquet at Stockholm's City Hall. Something tells us there will be even more attention than usual.

As for the present, make sure to take a look at our analysis of why Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature here, as well as an explanation from the Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary herself.

Thanks for following our coverage over the last two weeks. 

15:00 Stay tuned for more

Our editor Emma Löfgren managed to grab a quick interview with Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Sara Danius earlier, who told us why they picked Bob Dylan and what she's going to tell him when she calls him.

14:10 Dylan's Swedish connection

It may be a surprise to learn that a man integral to the Bob Dylan story is now a cornerstone of the Stockholm folk music scene, but it's true.

Izzy Young organized a young Dylan's first ever concert at New York's Carnegie Chapter Hall. Over half a century later, he now resides in Stockholm, presenting concerts at the Folklore Centrum on southern Stockholm island Södermalm.

Young moved to Stockholm in 1973 with his French girlfriend and hasn't looked back since. Despite his importance to the Greenwich Village folk scene in the sixties, he lives humbly, but the folk sage does have a few treasures hidden away.

You can read more about his story, and the precious original manuscripts of Dylan songs he was gifted by the newly named Nobel Laureate, here.  


Izzy Young. Photo: Gabriel Stein

13:45 Does Dylan's win make sense?

The Local asked Sweden-based music writer Paul Connolly for his thoughts on today's win, and his conclusions may surprise a few.

“Bob Dylan shouldn't have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. His writing lacks the precision and emotional insight of other contenders like Milan Kundera, and previous winners like Seamus Heaney. Furthermore, all his best work was written to be enjoyed in the context of a song,” he wrote.

“For him to win the Nobel is akin to a movie screenwriter winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. It just doesn't make sense.”

He isn't the only person to ask questions:


Bob Dylan performing in 2012. Photo: Chriz Pizzello/TT

13:30 Simple but effective

Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Sara Danius is now doing the rounds with the press who are grilling her on Bob Dylan's win. Intriguingly, Danius said she isn't a particularly big Dylan fan and preferred David Bowie. 

The press releases about the Nobel Prize winners are usually pretty dense, but in this case the Swedish Academy opted for no more than one line, and instead referred to a lengthy list of his works in writing, music and film. The uninitiated can read the full breakdown here.

The Local's resident Dylan fan has wasted little time partaking in the inevitable pun-fest:

13:20 A justified winner?

The Swedish Academy may well take some flacks in some quarters for picking a non-traditional (and unusually popular) winner by their standards, but there's no doubt over the excitement making Bob Dylan the 2016 Nobel Literature Prize winner has caused.

The reaction in the room at the Swedish Academy building was easily the loudest of all the Nobel announcements in the last fortnight, and if there's any musician whose work focuses heavily on the text, it's definitely Dylan.  

13:10 Nobel Prizes, they are a changin'

So forget all that stuff we wrote about obscure winners of the Nobel Prize. The Swedish Academy decided to give American music legend Bob Dylan the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

“He is a great poet. He is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition, and he is a wonderful, original sampler. He embodies the tradition, and for 54 years now has been at it, reinventing himself constantly, creating a new identity,” Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Sara Danius has just explained.  

She reccomended his "Blonde on Blonde" album as a starting point, by the way. 

13:05 Wow

An audible gasp went around The Local's Stockholm HQ when Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. We'll have more on his work soon (if you needed it), but until then...

13:00 And the winner is...

12:55 Almost there

In five minutes we should know the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. This image taken by our editor Emma Löfgren sums up just how desperate everyone is to get the best view. 

12:45 Watch it live

The good people at NobelPrize.org will be streaming the announcement live from 1pm Swedish time, so if you fancy seeing how it all unfolds click on the player below.

A word of warning though: the stream had a few hiccups over the last two weeks, so keep our live blog open to be safe if you don't want to risk missing anything. We'll also have the added bonus of analysis, of course. 

12:35 Last year's Nobel Literature Laureate

Last year the literature prize went to Belorussian Svetlana Alexievich, who was one of the favourites for a change. Her best recognized work is an oral history of the Chernobyl disaster (‘Voices from Chernoyl'). You can read more about her here.

As for today, the room is starting to fill up with journalists now and we should be around 25 minutes away from finding out who the 2016 winner is… provided the Academy is on time. Exciting. 

12:30 Past winners

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been taking place for more than 100 years now, with 108 awards handed out in that time period. Some of the world's best-known writers have taken the honour: Rudyard Kipling's win in 1907, Ernest Hemingway's in 1954 and Gabriel García Márquez's in 1982 are some examples that stand out.

That doesn't mean the winning writer is always an easily recognizable household name though – far from it. A full list of all the winners can be found here. How many can you name? Be honest, and feel free to tweet your haul to us @TheLocalSweden.


Gabriel García Márquez pictured in 2014. Photo: AP

12:10 The process

So how do the literary powers go about picking the winner, we hear you ask? In his will, Alfred Nobel decreed that the literature prize should be decided by the Swedish Academy (Svenska Akademien). The academy was founded way back in 1786 by no less than royalty – King Gustaf III, to be precise.

From an initial nomination phase which can produce hundreds of names, a preliminary list of around 20 is settled on in April, before it's reduced to five by the summer.

The Academy's 18 members then pick the winner in October through a vote. In order for it to stand, the candidate must gain more than half of the votes cast. Permanent Secretary Sara Danius is the person tasked with announcing the victor.

As for what the winner gains: aside from taking home the world's most prestigious prize in literature, there's also the minor matter of an eight million kronor ($905,960) award, plus a banquet dinner with Sweden's King in December. 

12:00 A bittersweet day

Today is something of a bittersweet one in the Nobel literature world, as Italian playwright and actor Dario Fo, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997 passed away on Thursday at the age of 90.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi hailed Fo's work as the “legacy of a great Italian to the world”. Read more about the literary great here.


Dario Fo. Photo: AFP

11:45 The front-runners

It's a thankless task trying to predict this prize as we said, but along with Murakami there are a couple of prospective winners currently fancied by the bookmakers.

Syrian poet Adonis is one, Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o is another. Then there's the American crop of Don DeLillo, Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, plus Britain's Salman Rushdie and Czech-French writer Milan Kundera.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to expect the unexpected. We'll find out whether that proves to be the case in just over an hour.

11:35 Better late than never

This year's Nobel Literature Prize has opted for the fashionably late approach. It's traditionally announced on the Thursday of the same week as the other prizes created by Alfred Nobel, but in 2016 we've been made to wait an extra week.

Why? “Arithmetic”, the Swedish Academy said. There's a more detailed explanation here, though we can't promise it'll make things any clearer.

So will good things come to those who wait? Haruki Murakami will hope so. The Japanese novelist has been one of the front-runners to take the prize for years, but the predictably unpredictable Swedish Academy has yet to give him the nod.

As usual he's one of the favourites in 2016 – The Local has even had calls from Japanese media asking about his chances – but you never know with this award. 

11.30 Saving the best for last?

Hello and welcome back to our final day of Nobel Prize coverage for 2016, and today it's (arguably) the big one: the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Local has reported live from every prize announcement in Stockholm this year, starting with Physiology or Medicine, then followed by Physics, Chemistry and Economics. We also covered the Nobel Peace Prize across the border in Norway, so there's plenty of great analysis and information to immerse yourself in if you missed anything.

Our editor Emma Löfgren is currently on her way to Stockholm's Old Town and the grand old Swedish Academy building for the Nobel Literature Prize announcement at 1pm, while reporter Lee Roden will take care of this live blog. 

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