Bob Dylan, the unofficial poet laureate of the rock ’n’ roll generation, has now been officially placed alongside such literary greats as Philip Roth and Adrienne Rich, not to mention biographies of Shakespeare and Willem de Kooning. All were among nominees announced yesterday for the National Book Critics Circle prizes.
Dylan, whose memoir Chronicles, Vol 1 was a favourite with both reviewers and readers, is among the finalists for biography/autobiography, his competition including two acclaimed best sellers: Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton and Stephen Greenblatt’s biography of Shakespeare.
Also nominated were John Guy’s Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart (Houghton Mifflin) and De Kooning: An American Master, by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.
Most literary efforts by rock stars, from the Kinks’ Ray Davies to Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, are laughed off by critics, but Dylan has been praised for an unusually rich and engaging book.