I’m Not There: ‘Other commitments’ will keep Bob Dylan from Nobel Prize ceremony

Bob Dylan, the influential but notoriously media-shy singer-songwriter, won’t travel to Stockholm next month to receive his 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature because of prior commitments, the Swedish Academy has announced.

The academy said it was told by Dylan that “he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible.”

Dylan, currently on tour in the U.S., has concert dates scheduled through Nov. 23.

The American popular music and culture icon was revealed last month as the surprising, polarizing winner of the Nobel.

He was credited for creating “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and the win marked the first time the prestigious honour has been awarded to someone known primarily as a musician.

However, despite repeated attempts by organizers to contact him after his naming on Oct. 13, the 75-year-old remained silent. He eventually contacted the academy. 

“The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless,” Dylan told Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, according to a statement on the Nobel Foundation’s website.

“I appreciate the honour so much.”

At the time, the Nobel Foundation also noted it was up to Dylan to determine whether to attend the Dec. 10 ceremony, where all the Nobel Prizes will be conferred upon this year’s winners in Sweden’s capital city. The date marks the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel’s death.

The academy noted that a winner not personally attending the ceremony was “unusual, but not exceptional.”

For instance, Austrian playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek’s social phobia led her to skip the 2004 ceremony. In 2013, Alice Munro’s daughter Jenny accepted the prize on her behalf, due to the beloved Canadian author’s poor health.

Still, Dylan’s not totally off the hook: “We are looking forward to Bob Dylan’s Nobel lecture, which he must hold, according to the requirements, within six months” from Dec. 10, the academy said.

Meanwhile, organizers have landed another music icon — Sting — for the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert Dec. 11. 

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