The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction

2015 - Anthony Doerr

Born: 27 October 1973, Cleveland, OH

Awarded for: "All the Light We Cannot See"

Prize motivation: "for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life"

Field: Fiction

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Anthony Doerr

About Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr (born October 27, 1973) is an American author of novels and short stories. He gained widespread recognition for his 2014 novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr attended the nearby University School, where he graduated in 1991. He then majored in history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he graduated in 1995, and earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University.

Doerr's first published book was a collection of short stories called The Shell Collector (2002). Many of the stories take place in Africa and New Zealand, where he has worked and lived. He wrote another book of short stories called Memory Wall (2010). His first novel, About Grace, was released in 2004. Doerr then wrote a memoir, Four Seasons in Rome, which was published in 2007.

Doerr's second novel, All the Light We Cannot See, set in occupied France during World War II, was published in 2014. It received significant critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. The book was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the newspaper as a notable book of 2014. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. It was runner-up for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and won the 2015 Ohioana Library Association Book Award for Fiction.

Doerr also writes a column on science books for the Boston Globe and is a contributor to The Morning News, an online magazine.

From 2007 to 2010, he was the writer-in-residence for the state of Idaho.


All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

By Enna Frye

t has been a while since I have found a book that I wanted to read slowly so that I could soak in every detail in hopes that the last page seems to never come. When reading the synopsis of this novel, I never imagined that I would feel so connected to a book where one of the main characters is blind and the other a brilliant young German orphan who was chosen to attend a brutal military academy under Hitler's power using his innate engineering skills. This novel was so much more than the above states. The idiosyncrasies of each individual character are so well defined and expressed in such ways that come across the page almost lyrically. I was invited into the pages and could not only imagine the atmosphere, but all of my senses were collectively enticed from the very first page until the last.

I was so amazed with the way that the author was able to heighten all my senses in a way that I felt like I knew what it was like to be blind. In most well-written books you get of a sense of what the characters look like and follow them throughout the book almost as if you are on a voyage, but with this novel, I could imagine what it was like to be in Marie-Laure's shoes. The descriptives were so beautifully intricate that I could imagine the atmosphere through touch and sound. It was amazing, really.

There were so many different aspects of the book that are lived out in separate moments and in different countries that find a way to unite in the end. What impressed me most was that I could have never predicted the outcome. It was as though all cliches were off the table and real life was set in motion. Life outside of books can be very messy and the author stayed true to life but in a magical and symbolic way.

I have said in other reviews that just when I think that I have read my last book centered around the Second World War, another seems to pop up. I should emphasize that this book created an image of war in a way that I have never imagined before. I truly got a sense of what it must have been like for children who lived a happy life and then suddenly were on curfew and barely had food to eat. It also showed the side of young children who are basically brainwashed by Nazi leaders and made into animals who seem to make choices that they normally wouldn't in order to survive. And by survive, I mean dodging severe abuse by their own colleagues.

This book may haunt me for some time. I can't express enough how beautifully written the pages are. I highly recommend this read as it is my favorite so far for 2014.

The Shell Collector - Anthony Doerr

By C. E. Stevens

I read The Shell Collector after being mesmerized by All the Light We Cannot See. Whereas I would characterize All the Light as providing a probing and thought-provoking juxtaposition between the inherent fragility and frequent ugliness of human nature and civilization relative to the beauty of the natural world, many of the stories in The Shell Collector display nature in its rougher, almost primal state--especially the first few stories, such as The Hunter's Wife and the titular Shell Collector. However, as the collection moved on, I felt like the mood foreshadowed All the Light more, as the natural world became more welcoming and almost magical at times--exemplified best by the final story, Mkondo, I would say. Likewise, the relationship between Joseph Saleeby and Belle in The Caretaker reminded me in many ways of that between the central protagonists in All the Light--physically handicapped yet mentally strong girl coupled with male character who is physically able yet psychologically weary and scarred. I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, but it is probably these two that I enjoyed the most--The Caretaker in particular was intense, poignant, and memorable.

In many cases, reading earlier works of an author who has produced later masterpieces can be a slight letdown, but for me that wasn't the case with The Shell Collector. Vivid, interesting, thought-provoking ... I'd recommend this collection whether this is your first exposure to Doerr, or whether you've read other works by him already.