Musician Bob Dylan wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Svetlana Alexievich, of Belarus, won the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature for her oral histories of life in and around Russia.
(Markus Schreiber / AP)
French novelist Patrick Modiano won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature (Christophe Ena / AP)
Known for her short stories, Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
(Derek Shapman / EPA)
After Chinese writer Mo Yan won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, Chinese authorities were pleased, while some other nations questioned his willingness to accept censorship. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP/Getty Images)
Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, 80, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. He had long been thought to be a strong contender for the prize, which is awarded by the Swedish Academy. (Fredrik Sandberg / EPA)
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. It had been 20 years since a Latin American writer had received the prize. (Justin Lane / EPA)
Romanian-born Herta Muller, who writes in German and now lives in Germany, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009, when she was 56. (Picador)
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature at age 68. The French author’s work had not been widely published in America; his win took U.S. readers by surprise. (Michel Euler / Associated Press)
Doris Lessing, 88, holds flowers on her doorstep after learning she had been awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. Lessing was born in Iran to British parents and raised in Zimbabwe, when it was still the British colony of Rhodesia. (Shaun Curry / AFP/Getty Images)
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature at age 54. He had come to the world’s attention, in part, for publicly defying a Turkish law forbidding the mention of the Armenian genocide. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press )
British playwright Harold Pinter, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005 after living with cancer for four years. He died three years later. (John Stillwell / AP)
Austrian Elfriede Jelinek was 58 when she was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature. Sexuality and politics often feature prominently in her plays, and her work has been controversial. One member of the Swedish Academy resigned after she was named a laureate.
Novelist J. M. Coetzee was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. The South African native had moved to Australia the year before.
Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature at age 73, is a survivor of the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. (Guenter Vahlkampf / AFP/Getty Images)
Writer V.S. Naipaul was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Trinidad to parents of Indian descent, Naipaul earned a scholarship to Oxford and later settled in England. Boundaries and cultural misunderstandings often feature in his work, both fiction and nonfiction.
Gao Xingjian was a dissident writer in China before immigrating to France. The novelist and playwright was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000. (Vincent Yu / Associated Press )
Gunter Grass was considered Germany’s leading man of letters when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999. (Jens Meyer)
Jose Saramago was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in literature. The Portuguese novelist wrote many of his major works after he turned 60. (Armando Franca)
Italian playwright Dario Fo, shown rehearsing the play “Lu Santo Jullare Francesco” in 1999, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. ()
Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney, shown here with model and actress Jerry Hall in 2000, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995. (Stefan Rosseau )
Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, right, and his wife greet reporters after learning that he had been awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize. (Masaaki Kobayashi )
Toni Morrison was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature when she was 62. She is the last American to have been awarded the prize. (Michael Lionstar / Alfred A. Knopf / Associated Press)
Derek Walcott was awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. His poetry and plays are influenced by the Caribbean; he was born in St. Lucia and studied in Jamaica and Trinidad.
South African novelist and short story writer Nadine Gordimer, right, shown with writer Salman Rushdie in 2004, was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. In addition to her creative work, she has been an international leader of PEN, a nonprofit organization that advocates for imperiled writers. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican poet, editor and critic Octavio Paz. When he was awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature, he said in his speech: “Only now have I understood that there was a secret relationship between what I have called my expulsion from the present and the writing of poetry. Poetry is in love with the instant and seeks to relive it in the poem, thus separating it from sequential time and turning it into a fixed present.”
(Mary Kent )
Spanish writer Camilo Jose Cela was a bon vivant known for shaking up Spanish letters with a modern writing style called “tremendismo.” He is shown here in Stockholm after winning the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arab author to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he won a few days before this photo was taken in 1988. (Peter Oftedal / AFP/Getty Images)