Mr. Dylan wins Nobel Prize in Literature


Because my expertise includes not only medicine but also Bob Dylan’s life and art, I have to stand on a soap box and crow about Bob winning the Nobel Prize in Literature this very day.

He’s the first musician to win the award. The literature prize is given for a lifetime of writing rather than for a single work.

The Swedish Academy credited Mr. Dylan with “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Nobel academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally.

Americans should be proud, songwriters should be inspired, and residents of Hibbing, Minnesota, my hometown and Bob Dylan’s, should be awed beyond belief. Their majestic high school in this small iron ore village produced a literary legend.


Hibbing High School Auditorium, where Bob (Dylan) Zimmerman performed while in high school


Bob (Dylan) Zimmerman’s boyhood home in Hibbing, Minnesota


Introducing …,  THE DOCTOR AND MR. DYLAN, Dr. Novak’s debut novel, a legal mystery. Publication date September 9, 2014 by Pegasus Books.

On October 2, 2014 THE DOCTOR AND MR. DYLAN became the world’s  #1 bestselling anesthesia Kindle book on


In this debut thriller, tragedies strike an anesthesiologist as he tries to start a new life with his son.

Dr. Nico Antone, an anesthesiologist at Stanford University, is married to Alexandra, a high-powered real estate agent obsessed with money. Their son, Johnny, an 11th-grader with immense potential, struggles to get the grades he’ll need to attend an Ivy League college. After a screaming match with Alexandra, Nico moves himself and Johnny from Palo Alto, California, to his frozen childhood home of Hibbing, Minnesota. The move should help Johnny improve his grades and thus seem more attractive to universities, but Nico loves the freedom from his wife, too. Hibbing also happens to be the hometown of music icon Bob Dylan. Joining the hospital staff, Nico runs afoul of a grouchy nurse anesthetist calling himself Bobby Dylan, who plays Dylan songs twice a week in a bar called Heaven’s Door. As Nico and Johnny settle in, their lives turn around; they even start dating the gorgeous mother/daughter pair of Lena and Echo Johnson. However, when Johnny accidentally impregnates Echo, the lives of the Hibbing transplants start to implode. In true page-turner fashion, first-time novelist Novak gets started by killing soulless Alexandra, which accelerates the downfall of his underdog protagonist now accused of murder. Dialogue is pitch-perfect, and the insults hurled between Nico and his wife are as hilarious as they are hurtful: “Are you my husband, Nico? Or my dependent?” The author’s medical expertise proves central to the plot, and there are a few grisly moments, as when “dark blood percolated” from a patient’s nostrils “like coffee grounds.” Bob Dylan details add quirkiness to what might otherwise be a chilly revenge tale; we’re told, for instance, that Dylan taught “every singer with a less-than-perfect voice…how to sneer and twist off syllables.” Courtroom scenes toward the end crackle with energy, though one scene involving a snowmobile ties up a certain plot thread too neatly. By the end, Nico has rolled with a great many punches.

Nuanced characterization and crafty details help this debut soar.

To reach the Amazon webpage to purchase The Doctor and Mr. Dylan, click on the book image below:



Hibbing High School

Stanford professor Dr. Nico Antone  leaves the wife he hates and the Stanford job he loves to return to Hibbing, Minnesota where he spent his childhood. He believes his son’s best chance to get accepted into a prestigious college is to graduate at the top of his class in this remote Midwestern town. His son becomes a small town hero and academic star, while Dr. Antone befriends Bobby Dylan, a deranged anesthetist who renamed and reinvented himself as a younger version of the iconic rock legend who grew up in Hibbing. An operating room death rocks their world, and Dr. Antone’s family and his relationship to Mr. Dylan are forever changed.


Before writing The Doctor and Mr. Dylan, Rick Novak worked as a clinical anesthesiologist, medical director, and expert witness in Northern California.

Rick was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, to a welding foreman and a homemaker. His mother read two books per week, and Rick developed the same habit, frequently bicycling the four blocks from their home to the public library to pick out new material. He graduated from Hibbing High School in 1972, and was accepted to Harvard College. For his Harvard application essay Rick penned a short story about God revealing Himself to two drunks in a Minnesota tavern.

Hibbing High School Auditorium, Hibbing, Minnesota

Rick declined Harvard and enrolled instead at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he received a degree in Chemistry in 1976. From 1973-1977 Rick worked five summers with United States Steel in the iron ore mines near Hibbing. He played on the  United States Junior Men’s Curling championship teams in 1974 and 1975.  Rick then studied medicine at the University of Chicago School, graduated with an MD in 1980, and moved to California the following day to become an intern at Stanford Hospital.

Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, California

He spent the next thirty-plus years at Stanford, where he served as an intern, a resident in internal medicine, an emergency room faculty member, an anesthesia resident, and finally as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Anesthesia and Deputy Chief of the Anesthesia Department at Stanford.

Rick’s writing career blossomed in the role of Deputy Chief, where he authored a monthly column in the department newsletter. The theme of each essay centered on the differences between the private practice of anesthesia and the university-based teaching practice of anesthesia. He began posting these essays on The Anesthesia Consultant website ( in 2010. Readership grew, and now hundreds of thousands of people visit the website each year.

Beginning in 2001, Dr. Novak developed an interest in anesthesia medical-legal consultation, a role that drew him into the courtroom as an expert witness.

Rick’s lifelong dream of creating entertaining fiction led him to imagine a story: the plot dealt with an anesthesia complication, a crumbling marriage, a son’s quest for elite college admission, and a courtroom drama, all set in his and Bob Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. Three years of writing and rewriting yielded the manuscript of The Doctor and Mr. Dylan. In 2014, literary agent Anne Devlin believed the story was a winner, and sold the book to Pegasus Publishing.

Rick continues his work in clinical anesthesia at Stanford Hospital and at Waverley Surgery Center in Palo Alto, California. He lives with his three sons, Zachary, Theo, and Oliver, and passes on his love of academics and reading to them.

Rick’s second novel, Doctor Vita, is being published in 2019.