Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Congratulations to Anthony Doerr, Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the winners of its literary and journalistic prizes for 2015. And the recipient of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is Anthony Doerr, for his novel All the Light We Cannot See. I'd like to congratulate Doerr for this honor . . . and recommend that you read the novel if you have not!

All the Light We Cannot See was one of my two favorite novels from 2014. I never wrote a review of it (as a book blogger, I experienced a bit of an existential crisis starting in December of last year and stopped posting . . . more on that later!). But my failure to review the novel in no way reflects my opinion of its worth. Doerr's novel is beautifully written, deeply engrossing, and emotionally engaging. It's a terrific example of what I like to call literary historical fiction--those books that tell a story from the past but bear the hallmarks of excellent writing and strong character development that are present in literary fiction. As you might be able to tell if you've read my blog, literary historical fiction is my very favorite kind of book.

I am always interested in which novels win the big literary prizes. Some of the winners of the prizes last year gave me some pause, I have to admit. (In fact, last fall I wrote a blog post about this: Do Literary Prizes Influence Your Reading Choices?) Especially after the awarding of the Baileys Prize to Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and the Man Booker Prize to Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North . . . Both choices struck me as not very accessible for most readers (just my own opinion, of course--I'm sure some would disagree). That prompted me to wonder if there has been a disconnect between prizewinning novels of late and what most readers actually want to read. I certainly don't want to imply that I think literary prizes should necessarily go to commercially successful fiction; sometimes that just isn't possible. All the Light We Cannot See strikes me as great example of a novel that is literary enough to earn the approval of judges and, at the same time, accessible and enjoyable for much of the fiction-reading public.

I've recommended All the Light We Cannot See to many friends and fellow book-lovers as a satisfying and thought-provoking read. Interestingly, both of my two local book clubs have chosen it as their selection for the month of April. The novel is an excellent choice for this year's Pulitzer Prize. I hope that even more readers will discover the pleasures of All the Light We Cannot See as a result of the prize.

Have you read All the Light We Cannot See? If not, is it on your list of books to-be-read?


  1. I think I was one of the only people out there who didn't love this one. I sampled it from Amazon and thought the sample was a slog, so didn't buy the book. But, I'm VERY glad to see an accessible book that lots of people actually read and loved win the big one. I get frustrated when these aware committees pick books that are so out there that few regular people actually read them. I think they're just making themselves and the award irrelevant that way :)
    Again - so glad you're back to blogging!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah!

      Sorry this one didn't work for you . . . but I can truly understand how it might have seemed a slog at the start. I would say it gets more interesting as you go . .. but maybe it loses some readers before it can get them hooked into the story. I'll be interested to hear what my book clubs think . .. I'm expecting a wide range of opinions!

      Absolutely agree about the awards making themselves irrelevant if the prize committees only choose really obscure, inaccessible books as winners! I do love to see it when novels please both the critics/prize committees and the book-buying public . . . I think that's good for the book industry as a whole. And for book lovers :)

  2. I fully understand how this novel won the Pulitzer. I can also understand why it's so difficult to review. I can't really think of how to describe my feelings about this novel except that I am grateful that I read it. I really am dazzled by Doerr's exploration of courage in people who seemingly have no power.

    1. Glad you liked it! "Exploration of courage in people who seemingly have no power"--well said. Now I want to go to Normandy!