Legendary American musician Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature, the first songwriter to receive the prestigious award.

The Swedish Academy, which makes the annual decision on who will win the prize, said Dylan was honored “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Throngs of people who had gathered for the announcement in Stockholm reacted with a loud cheer when Dylan’s name was read. (He had been mentioned as a possible Nobel prize winner in past years but was not seen as a serious contender.)

Why he was chosen

In some quarters, Dylan is seen as an unconventional choice for the Nobel, but Sara Danius, permanent secretary at the Swedish Academy, defends the choice, calling him “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition.”

“His repertoire stretches from folk songs in the Appalachians, delta blues in the South, all the way to Rimbaud, of French modernism,” she said.

India’s newKerala website reports that many artists are applauding the academy’s decision, including novelist Salman Rushdie, who tweeted: “From Orpheus to Faiz, song and poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice, Nobel.”

India’s singer Vishal Dadlani posted: “Can’t even express my joy! Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature! This is awesome! His songs shaped the meaning of freedom for me.”


The 75-year-old singer and songwriter was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941, and raised in a Jewish middle-class family. He taught himself to play the guitar, harmonica and piano.

Dylan launched his music career in 1959 by performing in coffee houses. His best-known works are from the 1960s, when songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” became anthems for the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements.

His 1965 classic “Like a Rolling Stone” was named the greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. “No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time,” the magazine said.

Dylan is one of 11 Nobel laureates who will be honored at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10.