People may not realize that Nobel Prizes, like other awards, are actively campaigned for. It is as if lobbyists, albeit unpaid ones, were out there petitioning the committee in Stockholm. Here is Gordon Ball's brief for Dylan, which is entitled "I nominated Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize. You’re welcome" and which appears in today's Washington Post. Ball has campaigned for a Nobel for Dylan since 1996. -- DL
For decades I’ve admired the work of Bob Dylan, whom I first saw at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, but it was in August of 1996 that I first wrote the Nobel Committee, nominating Dylan for its literature prize. The idea to do so originated not with me but with two Dylan aficionados in Norway, journalist Reidar Indrebø and attorney Gunnar Lunde, who had recently written Allen Ginsberg about a Nobel for Dylan. Ginsberg’s office then asked if I’d write a nominating letter. (Nominators must be professors of literature or linguistics, past laureates, presidents of national writers’ groups, or members of the Swedish Academy or similar groups.) Over the next few months, several other professors, including Stephen Scobie, Daniel Karlin, and Betsy Bowden, endorsed Dylan for the Nobel. I would go on to nominate Dylan for the next dozen years. This year, he finally won.