Nobel Laureate in Print

9781451648768_40dbcReactions to Bob Dylan’s winning the Nobel Prize in Literature have been mostly favorable, mixed with a few objections that awarding the prize to a singer-songwriter takes much-needed attention away from books and reading. Anna North argues this viewpoint in the NYT, writing, “Bob Dylan does not need a Nobel Prize in Literature, but literature needs a Nobel Prize. This year, it won’t get one.”

The usual routine following the announcement of a new laureate is to try to determine if any of the author’s books are available in English and if they have been published in the US.

This year’s winner presents a different issue. While he writes in English, he has few books in print. Simon & Schuster, in the fortunate position of being about to release The Lyrics: 1961-2012, moved the publication date up a week to Nov. 1. A revised edition of the oversized volume published in 2014 at $299, it is now a more accessible $60.

Other than collections of lyrics, Dylan has published two books, both currently out of print. The first, in 1971, a widely panned collection of poetry and prose, Tarantula (Macmillan), which has since developed some supporters.

In 2004, he published the much more well-received memoir and best seller, Chronicles: Volume One (S&S). There’s been no news about the second in the planned three-part memoir since 2012, when Dylan told the Rolling Stone, “Let’s hope [it happens] … I’m always working on parts of it … it’s a lot of work. I don’t mind writing it, but it’s the rereading it and the time it takes to reread it – that for me is difficult.”

One Response to “Nobel Laureate in Print”

  1. Elena Says:

    The Nobel Prize in Literature has also been criticized for overwhelmingly honoring white men. Natalie Kon-yu wrote a very thoughtful piece for The Guardian on how awarding the prize to Dylan isn’t very radical, and is actually just a continuation of the disappointing status quo for this award: