COPENHAGEN — Never mind: Bob Dylan won't be coming to Stockholm to pick up his 2016 Nobel Prize for literature at the Dec. 10 prize ceremony, the Swedish Academy said Wednesday.
The Academy says Dylan told them that "he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible." The Academy did not detail these other commitments.
The 75-year-old American singer-songwriter was awarded the prize on Oct. 13 "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
The literature prize and five other Nobel Prizes will be officially conferred upon winners in Stockholm next month on the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.
The Academy said it "respects Bob Dylan's decision," adding that not traveling to the Swedish capital to personally pick up the prestigious award was "unusual, but not exceptional."
Literature laureates have skipped the ceremony before. In 2004, Austrian playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek stayed home, citing a social phobia.
"The award is still theirs, as it now belongs to Bob Dylan," the Academy said. "We are looking forward to Bob Dylan's Nobel lecture, which he must hold, according to the requirements, within six months" from Dec. 10.
Dylan's response to the Nobel award, the first-ever literature prize to go to a musician, has been unusual. For two weeks after it was announced, he was silent in public and to the Academy, leading to some harrumphing about "arrogance" and rudeness from miffed members of the Nobel committee.
Then, in a rare interview with The Telegraph's Edna Gundersen in late October, he explained his silence as surprise. "It’s hard to believe,” he said. When he first heard the news, it was “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?”
Moreover, he said he planned to attend the awards ceremony in Stockholm.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If it’s at all possible.”