Anthony Doerr Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for All the Light We Cannot See

Posted on April 20, 2015

Anthony Doerr author photo

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this afternoon. Anthony Doerr's novel All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner) won the Fiction Prize. Doerr has a shelf full of prizes for the book which was also a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Excellence of Fiction. It also was is New York Times bestseller.

The fiction jury described the novel as "an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology."

The Poetry prize was awarded to Digest by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books). The jury said his poetry collection contains "clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private." Mr. Pardlo's first book Totem won the 2007 American Poetry Review/ Honickman Prize. He is a teaching fellow in Undergraduate Writing at Columbia University.

In an interview with Guernica, he discusses the conflict between being a scholar and a poet and how he juggles both pursuits. He explains, "I've found the way I tend to integrate poet and scholar is by ironizing the scholarship. My hope is to disturb that space between the two so they can coexist in a kind of mutual uncertainty. To put it less cynically, both the poet and scholar are trying to learn something. The poem for me is a pursuit. Some of the answers are within. Some of the answers are without."

The General Nonfiction award went to The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt). Ms. Holt s a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.

Eric Lipton of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal staff won the Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting. Lipton won for his reporting on the influence of lobbyists on congressional leaders. The WSJ won for the piece "Medicare Unmasked." The Breaking News Reporting award went to The Seattle Times Staff for their digital reporting about a landslide that killed 43 people.

You can see a list of all the winners here. In 20 of the Pulitzer categories the winners receive a cash award of $10,000. The Public Service category winner, which is an organization such as a newspaper, gets a gold medal but no cash.

In this video, Anthony Doerr discusses his inspiration for a World War II story about radio, the invasion of Paris and a terrified, trapped young boy. Take a look:



Photo: Shauna Doerr