The committee responsible for awarding the Nobel Prize in literature has not yet been able to contact singer-songwriter Bob Dylan about Thursday's decision to give him this year's prize, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy confirmed to BuzzFeed News Wednesday.
Most Nobel laureates are given the opportunity to immediately react to their win via telephone during a press conference.
However, the surprise decision to give Dylan the 2016 literature prize was revealed only via a short statement read out by the Swedish Academy's Sara Danius to reporters in Stockholm, with no reaction from the man himself.
Speaking to Sveriges Radio on Monday, Danius — the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, the group tasked with choosing literature laureates — admitted: “I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies."
Danius said there was uncertainty over whether the 75-year-old would attend his prize-giving ceremony, scheduled for Dec. 10, although she remained hopeful he would. "It is sad if he does not come," she said, "but in that case, it will be a nice party anyway."
On Wednesday, Danius spoke to BuzzFeed News via email, saying that they still hadn't been able to get in touch with Dylan, and were still unsure if he'd appear at his ceremony:
Thanks for writing us. We have not yet established direct contact with Bob Dylan but I have spoken to one of his close colleagues, who was extremely gracious.
It would be fantastic if Dylan wanted to come to Stockholm in December but if he doesn’t want to, so be it. It has happened before, for different reasons – think Alice Munro, Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek, to name a few. Whatever transpires, the award belongs to Dylan, which is what is important as far as the Swedish Academy is concerned.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is a reward for a life’s work. The laureates are given their Nobel Prizes for what they have accomplished, not as an enticement to come to Stockholm.
A spokeswoman for the Nobel Foundation also confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that they "have not been in contact with Bob Dylan," and would be making no further comment.
In the aftermath of Thursday's announcement, it seemed that even those closest to Dylan were struggling to get a comment from him.
His agent, Brian Greenbaum, told Swedish tabloid Expressen on Friday: “It's been a crazy day, there have been calls nonstop from around the world,” adding that he hadn't been able to get in touch with the star.
Dylan's publicist, Elliott Mintz, reportedly experienced similar problems. BuzzFeed News has contacted Greenbaum and Mintz and is awaiting response.
The notoriously enigmatic Dylan did not make reference to his Nobel win during his gig in Las Vegas on Thursday, barely speaking to the audience. However, he did play the guitar onstage, something he has rarely done in recent years, amid rumors he suffers from arthritis.
He also did not address it at the weekend's Desert Trip festival in California. However, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones — who followed Dylan onstage — said: "I want to thank Bob Dylan for an amazing set. We have never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before. Bob is like our own Walt Whitman.”
Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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