Bob Dylan is the surprise winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

The veteran singer-songwriter has been honoured for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, and joins an esteemed group of literary giants including Ernest Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison and George Bernard Shaw.

Although no-one doubts the importance of Dylan’s contribution to popular culture over the last five decades, the fact that he hasn’t recorded an album of original material since 2012’s Tempest – his last two records were covers of old standards – meant the award came as a surprise to many in the media.

However, Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, says in a video interview after the awards announcement that the singer was a deserved winner of arguably the world’s most prestigious literary prize. “He can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the English tradition,” she says.