In 2016, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The reactions came in fast. Salman Rushdie called Dylan “the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.” But is Bob Dylan literature? Another novelist Jodi Picoult remarked, “I’m happy for Bob Dylan. #ButDoesThisMeanICanWinAGrammy?”
This feels like the lamest Nobel win since they gave it to Obama for not being Bush— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) 13 October 2016
Bob Dylan himself took months to accept the prize. “When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was.”
The Nobel Committee has always been slightly controversial. What went through the committee member’s minds when they compared Haruki Murakami and Bob Dylan?
Juries are forever in hot water. Forever accused of being too political, too partial, too white, too biased, too prejudiced, too male . . . and what not.
And it’s true that jury selection directly impacts who wins the award. Which is why, we take jury selection very seriously.
The BICW Jury
The BICW jury has 3 members, who bring different perspectives to the table –
- A retired English teacher who obsesses about correct English, and good English.
- A school owner who worries about whether the kids will be alright.
- A theatre group that desires a certain narrative quality in every book.
In 2019, publishers nominated 300 books. Would the jurists actually read all these books in 2 months, or just glance through them, or worse, just fake it? In our jury selection, we chose only those who would commit to read all the books.
Having said this, for the sake of their privacy, we aren’t revealing their names.
The Jury Process
The jurists are asked to comment on each of the books and share these comments with us. While forming their opinion, the jury members are asked to keep the children in mind (and not the teachers, or the parents, or the publishers, or the booksellers). We keep all lines of communication open to the jurists – if they need clarification on the context of a particular book, then we provide the same. If they want to change the level or category of a book, we discuss the same with them. They do not operate in a silo. However, the jurists are not permitted to talk to each other so that they don’t influence each other.
The Multistory team collates the comments and finalises the BICW list.