The decision to award American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan with the Nobel Prize for literature has been met with shock, condemnation and criticism from authors who feel he is undeserving of the accolade.
Dylan was named as the prize winner in Stockholm on Thursday (Friday AEST) for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
The announcement by the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, elicited jeers, laughter and gasps of shock from the crowd.
Watch the announcement and reaction below
Ms Danius said while the decision “had not been difficult” she hoped it wouldn’t be criticised too harshly.
“We hoped the news would be received with joy, but you never know,” she told The Guardian.
“We’re really giving it to Bob Dylan as a great poet – that’s the reason we awarded him the prize. He’s a great poet in the great English tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards.”
Dylan, 75, is the first singer-songwriter to win the award and has broken a 23-year drought for American winners of the award.
While the nominees for the prize are kept secret until 50 years after it is awarded, Dylan is believed to have beaten out big names like Japanese author Haruki Murakami and American author Don DeLillo.
Murakami was a hot favourite to win, with his fans awaiting the verdict in Tokyo photographed looking shocked and bemused by Dylan’s success.
On Twitter user joked Murakami was becoming “the Leonardo DiCaprio of literature” – comparing his near-misses to DiCaprio’s lengthy campaign for an Academy Award.
Haruki Murakami will eventually become the Leonardo DiCaprio of the Literature Nobel.
— Peglet (@PedestrianPoet) October 13, 2016
just got my “congratulations haruki murakami on your nobel prize for literature” neck tattoo. what’d i miss
— brian feldman (???) (@bafeldman) October 13, 2016
Haruki Murakami just lost the Nobel Prize in literature to Bob Dylan. I've never been so confused as to what to feel.
— Sal (@salnutus) October 13, 2016
Previous winners of the prize have included Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Albert Camus.
Musicians congratulated Dylan, including Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Bette Midler, while Searching for Sugar Man star, musician Sixto Rodriguez, described him as “the Shakespeare of music”.
Some authors, however, were less celebratory. Irish wordsmith Irvine Welsh described the award as “ill-conceived nostalgia wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile-gibbering hippies”.
I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.
— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) October 13, 2016
Satirical American author Gary Shteyngart joked Dylan was chosen because the Nobel committee found it too hard to read books.
I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard.
— Gary Shteyngart (@Shteyngart) October 13, 2016
Bestselling author Jodi Picoult wondered whether Dylan’s win meant she could soon claim a Grammy.
I'm happy for Bob Dylan. #ButDoesThisMeanICanWinAGrammy?
— Jodi Picoult (@jodipicoult) October 13, 2016
Dylan isn’t the first controversial winner of the literary accolade.
In 1962, American author John Steinbeck’s win was criticised by Swedish media as a huge mistake, with The New York Times questioning why the prize went to an author whose “limited talent is, in his best books, watered down by tenth-rate philosophising”.
Steinbeck himself admitted he was undeserving.
In 1964, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre declined to accept the award.
“It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize laureate,” he said.
“A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honourable form.”
It wasn’t all bad, however – authors Stephen King and Salman Rushdie both praised the choice, while actress Mia Farrow argued Dylan’s win was a light in a dark news cycle.
I am ecstatic that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel. A great and good thing in a season of sleaze and sadness.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 13, 2016
From Orpheus to Faiz,song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.Great choice. #Nobel
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) October 13, 2016
Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize Is a blessed relief, a gift of something else to think about-that isn’t dire and ugly https://t.co/job3bO25HX
— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) October 14, 2016