Pulitzer Prize 2015 winners include 'All the Light We Cannot See,' 'The Sixth Extinction'

Monitor staff named 'Light' as one of the best books of 2014.

The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes for fiction and nonfiction went to 'All the Light We Cannot See' and 'The Sixth Extinction,' respectively.

The winners for the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday and the big win in the books category – the prize for best fiction – was perhaps the least surprising book news of the year. 

Acclaimed novel “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr is now the latest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. “Light,” which is set during World War II, follows a French girl who is blind and may be in possession of a precious jewel, intertwining her story with that of a German boy with a talent for radios. The Monitor named “Light” as one of the best fiction books of 2014, with Monitor fiction critic Yvonne Zipp saying that it “may be Doerr’s best work to date.” The book was also a National Book Award nominee and has already spent 38 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

The Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction went to Elizabeth Kolbert’s work “The Sixth Extinction,” another book that has been the recipient of considerable attention and praise. In the book, Kolbert, a New Yorker writer, posits that a "sixth extinction" – a disaster similar to that which destroyed the dinosaurs – may be coming soon to planet Earth. The book was also a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and was on the shortlist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

Meanwhile, the history prize went to Elizabeth A. Fenn’s title “Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People,” while the drama award went to Stephen Adly Guirgis’s work “Between Riverside and Crazy” and the poetry award went to Gregory Pardlo’s “Digest.”

The biography prize went to the book “The Pope and Mussolini,” by David I. Kertzer. Monitor writer Randy Dotinga called “Pope” “stunning" and "remarkable.” In an interview with the Monitor, Kertzer discussed the narrative of his book.

“We see things retrospectively in terms of where fascism ended up,” Kertzer said. “But under Pius XI, fascism was totally new, an Italian invention headed by Mussolini – a bunch of former left-wingers who became fascists at the end of the first world war. As for the church, things were very different than they are now, post-Vatican Council. It's not all that long ago when there was really a much more authoritarian, medieval vision in the Vatican and the church.”

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