10/14/2016, 19.37
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Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan meets with approval and joy in Asia

The Nobel Committee recognises the great literary and universal value of the work by the American singer song-writer. For Salman Rushdie, it is a “Great choice”. Rezaul Hasan Laskar admires his "extraordinary poetic power." But some voices are critical.

Stockholm (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In Asia Twitter erupted over the Nobel Prize for Literature going to Bob Dylan.

According to the Hindustan Times, “Dylan’s songs [. . .] captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence, and influenced multiple generations since the 1960s.”

“When Bob Dylan gets the Nobel, you know the times they have a-changed,” wrote one twitterato; “Hope all aspiring novelists are turning their novels into songs and setting it to music,” said another.

The decision by the Nobel committee to recognise the singer song-writer from the 1960s has sparked strong reactions, both positive and negative.

Many bemoan the choice, claiming that it is anachronistic to see music as literature. Others responded more favourably to the news because of the great poetic power of Dylan’s lyrics.

In its motivation, the Committee writes that the prize “was awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’."

Behind the decision there is a desire to restore dignity to the oral tradition. Since the early sixties Dylan created, in words and music, an unlimited universe that pervades the world.

The singer song-writer’s influence on Western culture has been very strong. Many literary works, in prose or poetry, were inspired by his opus and many titles have been "stolen" from his songs.

Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie – often mentioned as a possible Nobel winner himself – tweeted “Great choice. [. . .] Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.”

In general, such an unexpected choice has been well received in Asia. Rezaul Hasan Laskar, a New Delhi-based journalist, defines Bob Dylan as a man of “extraordinary poetic power".

Citing Tarantula and Chronicles, Dylan’s two published works, the Indian journalist noted that the Nobel laureate “will never be remembered as one of the greatest singers of the rock’n’roll era but it’s the lyrics of his songs [. . .] that have thrilled his fans around the world”.

For Dylan, this is not the first literary recognition. In 2008, he won the Pulitzer Prize “For his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

However, not everyone agrees that singer is a poet of the first order. Novelist Norman Mailer once remarked that "If Dylan's a poet, I'm a basketball player."

For others, the choice is a farce, a lack of judgement on the part of the Nobel Committee. For French writer Pierre Assouline, the decision to give Dylan the Nobel Prize for Literature is depressing. “Their decision is contemptuous of writers,” he is quoted as saying. “I like Dylan but where is the [literary] work? I think the Swedish Academy have made themselves look ridiculous.”

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