Today Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature for being very good at writing songs. Stockholm’s own Alfred Nobel started this prize to award people who contributed to the arts and sciences in the previous year. He started it when the French press mistook his dead brother for the guy who invented dynamite and proclaimed “le marchand de mort est mort!” (“the merchant of death is dead!”) But he was rich—thanks to, you know, inventing dynamite—so he disinherited his children and gave people money so that he would have a big legacy. 

Bob Dylan got $900,000 and a pretty badass-looking medal with Nobel’s face on it.

Meanwhile… the following luminaries got bupkus.

vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut never got a Nobel, which he thought was personal. As he wrote…

“I used to be the owner and manager of an automobile dealership in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, called “Saab Cape Cod.” It and I went out of business 33 years ago. The Saab then as now was a Swedish car, and I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature. Old Norwegian proverb: ‘Swedes have short dicks but long memories.’ ”

gandhi

Gandhi was nominated and lost four times: 1937, 1938, 1939 and finally 1947—he was shot and killed two months later in January 1948.

None of these accomplished people ever won either: Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, J. R. R. Tolkien, Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, August Strindberg, Simon Vestdijk, Jorge Luis Borges, Ezra Pound, John Updike, Arthur Miller, Mark Twain and Chinua Achebe.

sartre

Meanwhile… Jean Paul Sartre won but refused for zee most French reason I’ve ever heard: “A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honourable form.” This is a reminder that awards, like money, have no actual meaning and life is a shabby subterfuge of misplaced meaning and ultimate misery. 

*Stares out rainy window*

*Exhales Gauloises*

*Accepts Nobel Prize for Blogging*

Meanwhile… accused American war criminal Henry Kissinger won for peace. Obama won in 2009 while fighting two wars. The nomination came on his 11th day in office. Most pundits agree that it was an award given for “not being George W. Bush.”