Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

The Best and Worst Things About Bob Dylan Winning the Nobel Prize

Now that Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, we find this to be an appropriate time to consider the best and worst aspects of this amazing honor.


1) It expands the definition of what constitutes great literature.

2) It vindicates all of us who suffered through the albums “Self Portrait” and “Knocked Out Loaded.”

3) It marks the first time a Nobel laureate has ever collaborated with Kurtis Blow

4) It means we can blast “Idiot Wind,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or “Pay in Blood” as loud as we want today, and if anyone complains, we can just say we’re playing great literature.

5) If Dylan’s Nobel speech is entertaining as the one he delivered for MusiCares, we should be in for a treat.

6) It marks the first known time when a Nobel laureate has both sung “Hava Nagilah” and appeared in an ad for Victoria’s Secret.

7) It gets Donald Trump off the front page of the newspaper for a day.

8) It probably really pisses off Philip Roth.

9) It probably really pisses off the New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, too.

10) It means Steven Sondheim or Patti Smith might win one.

11) Now, when someone says the winner of the Nobel Prize, no one can say, “Who?”

12) No offense to Patrick Modiano, but it makes the Nobel Prize seem that much more interesting and relevant than it usually is.


1) It means some professors are going to make “Tarantula” assigned reading.

2) It means we’re going to have to endure endless think pieces that will either end or begin with “The Times They Are a Changin’.”

3) It means tickets for the next “Desert Trip” shows just got that much more expensive.

4) It means some of us will have to sit through our friends’ bootleg copies of “Eat the Document” and “Renaldo and Clara” again.

5) It means Dylan fans will have to be subjected to irritating Facebook posts about how the prize really should have gone to Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates or Haruki Murakami.

6) Now that the floodgates have been opened, it means Leonard Cohen might be a Nobel favorite next year.

7) Unlike previous yearsm which have seen the revitalizations of authors like Alice Munro and Patrick Modiano, this won’t exactly send people running into bookstores.

8) There’s a lot less traffic for Nate Silver today.

9) There really aren’t a lot of bad things about this; ultimately, it’s some great news for once.

_ Adam Langer is the Forward’s culture editor. Follow him on Twitter, @Adam_Langer_


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.