Well, it’s been said for decades that those wacky Swedes who, between pounding the akvavit at crayfish parties while bopping in a mature but ideologically pure way to Abba impersonators, take time to look down their noses at America and Americans, either from the typical academic ivory-tower view of US foreign policy (in their eyes, we support the wrong terrorists, but don’t get me started, even on why that should matter to a reading of Philip Roth) or maybe just because we don’t really eat a lot of herring, have refused for a quarter century to so much as consider a child of the red, white, and blue for the big money jackpot, intermingling worthy scribes from far-flung–but not too uncomfortably far-flung–lands (Orhan Pamuk, Mario Vargas Llosa, among others) with dreary, unreadable and unread Europeans (Elfriede Jelinek? Srsly? And we can talk about Doris Lessing another time, when I’m awake, and I’ve always loathed the smug middle-class left-winginess of Sir Harold Pinter).
Nobel Laureate practices his faux-insouciant English professor-cum-writer of unreadable modernist novels gaze.
So how do they troll the US this time round? By choosing an American, duh. And indeed an American of whom I’ve been a fan for decades and decades, and whose latter-day work has been viewed by many as a miracle of rejuvenation. By many, but not by me, because I have to admit that I find most of Bob Dylan’s work over the last thirty years to be a bluesy grinding of gears over the same rutted country roads in the same old jalopy with oft-patched tires, around a neatly planned circuit of a wildly landscaped area between the tennis court and pool house, with plenty of broken-down pickup truck parking in the twelve car garage with the heated floor.
If they wanted to go the elderly-but-still-productive pop lyricist/poet route, surely Leonard Cohen would have been more appropriate?