All of the worldwide hoopla over Bob Dylan’s winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature came down to one small, intimate gathering in Stockholm where, after missing the formal Nobel Prize ceremony in December, the music legend finally accepted his medal and diploma at a muted event in the Swedish capital over the weekend.
According to the Associated Press, Klas Ostergren — a member of the Swedish Academy, which bestows the Nobel Literature award — said the American singer-songwriter was bestowed with the accolade during a small gathering Saturday afternoon. Dylan was scheduled to perform a concert later that night, and the meeting took place at a hotel next to the venue.
“It went very well indeed. [Dylan was] a very nice, kind man,” Ostergren told the news agency. The Nobel Prize’s website additionally confirmed.
“Bob Dylan received his medal and diploma this weekend during a meeting with members of the Swedish Academy,” the home page reads. “Stockholm was the first stop on Dylan and his band’s 2017 tour, and the meeting took place in connection with his concert.”
Though Dylan skipped the official awards banquet late last year, where Patti Smith fronted a musical tribute to his career as a songwriter, Azita Raji — the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden — read a heartfelt acceptance speech the 75-year-old “Like a Rolling Stone” performer penned for attendees.
“I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming,” he wrote. “From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.”
While the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Swedish Academy’s decision to honor Dylan’s work over the literary contributions of more traditional writers didn’t sit well with contemporary authors.
“This feels like the lamest Nobel win since they gave it to Obama for not being Bush,” Hari Kunzru, writer of Gods Without Men, tweeted last year. “People could have been introduced to Marias or Ngugi or Yan Lianke or Solstad or Ugresic instead of confirming their Dylan love. So, meh.”
My Sister’s Keeper author Jodi Picoult later joked: “I’m happy for Bob Dylan. #ButDoesThisMeanICanWinAGrammy?”