Odd Zschiedrich is the administrative director of the Swedish Academy, those generous folks who counterintuitively put a giant focus on literature this week by giving the Nobel Prize for Literature to singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Is songwriting, however powerful, really literature? That’s the debate the Dylan Nobel spurred, putting the question what is literature? front and center in the culture the first time since at least the invention of the personal computer.
Anyway Mr. Zschiedrich and company have been trying to reach Bob Dylan ever since the announcement, but they haven’t connected. Dylan, the first Nobel Lit winner since Winston Churchill for whom the accolade (Nobel Prize Winner) probably won’t make the headline of his obituary, has been hard to get a hold of. Maybe he’s thinking of giving the prize to Philip Roth? (With silence come the theories.) It’s not like Dylan has been in seclusion either — he’s out on the road doing dates, ever the iconoclast warbling Sinatra songs mixed together with one of his own every once in a while. The Nobel Prize was awarded to Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions.” Here’s one that the Nobel people keep hearing in their head:”I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/ You’d know what a drag it is to see you.”