Here’s Why Bob Dylan Won the Nobel Prize in Literature Today


At the New Republic yesterday, Alex Shepard suggested that this might be the year for Don DeLillo to win the Nobel Prize in Literature:

No American has won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 23 years, not since Toni Morrison. And it’s easy to presume that the game is rigged against the United States: In 2008, Horace Engdahl, then the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, went out of his way to dis American literature as a whole….The backlash to Engdahl’s comments was severe….But the criticism changed nothing: Seven Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded since then, and none of them went to Americans. Many in the U.S…think that the Swedish Academy has blackballed American writers.

….Of all the leading American Nobel candidates, DeLillo is a writer of the moment…. Swedish journalist Jens Liljestrand of the newspaper Expressen also thinks that this might be DeLillo’s year. “The Academy is very much aware of the fact that their disregard for American literature is starting to look silly, and might even make the ‘brand’ of the Nobel Prize suffer internationally,” he wrote in an email.

Call me cynical, but this is the lens through which I judge Bob Dylan’s Nobel win. The Academy did indeed feel like their boycott of American literature was starting to look silly, but they still didn’t want to award a prize to an actual American writer. So they chose Dylan. No matter what you think of his work, I view this as practically the ultimate snub of American novelists. You think Pynchon and DeLillo and Roth and Oates are great writers? Hah! They’re not even up to the standards of a good pop singer.

And now they can spend another two decades ignoring American writers.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.