Sometimes the Nobel winner in literature is an obscure writer little known to mainstream audiences. And then there's this year's winner: Bob Dylan. The Nobel panel chose the 75-year-old "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," it announced in a press release. Dylan has been mentioned in previous years as a candidate, and oddsmakers had given him an outside shot in 2016, notes the Los Angeles Times. Still, the favorite seems to have been Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong'o, best known in the US for the novel Wizard of the Crow. Dylan is the first American to win the honor since Toni Morrison in 1993, notes NPR. American Don DeLillo also was mentioned as a candidate this year.
Dylan will collect his award in December, along with its prize of about $900,000. Giving the nod to a songwriter is sure to ignite criticism of the Nobel panel, but the New York Times quotes from an op-ed that appeared in its pages from 2013 making the case for him: "Mr. Dylan's work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience," wrote Bill Wyman. "His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence." (This novelist is not happy with Dylan's win.)