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Dylan notably absent as Nobel laureates accept prizes

STOCKHOLM: Dressed in tails and white ties, this year’s Nobel laureates in medicine, economics, physics and chemistry accepted their prizes at a gala ceremony in Stockholm on Saturday, marked by the notable absence of the literature prize winner, US music icon Bob Dylan.

Earlier in the day, the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his bid to end a five-decade conflict with Marxist rebels FARC.

At the Stockholm ceremony, the nine laureates on hand received their prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf, in a concert hall decked with thousands of pink roses and red amaryllis, all donated by the Italian town of San Remo, where prize creator Alfred Nobel died on December 10, 1896.

But literature prize laureate Bob Dylan was not in attendance.

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He declined, citing “pre-existing commitments” — a move that created a stir in Sweden where it was seen as a slight towards the Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, and the Nobel Foundation.

Dylan, 75, is the first singer-songwriter to be awarded the prestigious literature prize.

In his absence, American rock star Patti Smith performed Dylan‘s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” during the glitzy ceremony, stumbling after appearing to either forget the lyrics or be overcome by nerves. She apologised to the 1,500 guests and resumed singing after warm applause.

Dylan sent a thank-you speech to be read at a gala banquet later in the evening at Stockholm’s City Hall, attended by around 1,300 guests and the Swedish royal family.

According to the Nobel Foundation, his prize should be presented to him in person sometime in 2017, either in Sweden or abroad.

But the other 2016 laureates were on hand to collect their prizes.

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British trio David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz were the first called up to accept their physics prize, followed by France’s Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Britain’s Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa of the Netherlands for their award in chemistry.

Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan then collected his medicine prize, and finally, British-American Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom of Finland accepted the award for economics.

Each Nobel prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque for eight million Swedish kronor (824,000 euros, $871,000) to be shared if there is more than one laureate in the discipline.

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