'Greatest living poet' Bob Dylan wins Nobel literature prize

The Times They Are a-Changin: Bob Dylan claims the prestigious prize. (Chris Pizzello, AP)

The Times They Are a-Changin: Bob Dylan claims the prestigious prize. (Chris Pizzello, AP)

Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that gave a singer-songwriter one of the world’s most prestigious cultural awards.

His songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind, Masters of War, A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall, The Times They Are a-Changin, Subterranean Homesick Blues and Like a Rolling Stone captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.

“Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound,” the Swedish Academy said on Thursday, when it awarded the 8-million Swedish crown ($930 000) prize.

More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour.

“He is probably the greatest living poet,” Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said.

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Nobel Academy, told a news conference there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.

Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.

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