“Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together.”
—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
Since the publication of his first story collection, The Shell Collector, in 2002, Anthony Doerr has been lauded for his lyricism, his precise attention to the physical world, and his gift for metaphor. The San Francisco Chronicle characterized Doerr’s literary ancestry as a combination of “Henry David Thoreau (for his pantheistic passions) and Gabriel García Márquez (for his crystal-cut prose and dreamy magic realism).”
Doerr’s novel, the runaway New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award. In All the Light We Cannot See, Doerr brings his keen naturalist’s eye and his empathetic engagement with humanity’s largest questions to the parallel stories of Marie, a blind girl living in occupied France, and Werner, a German orphan whose extraordinary mechanical abilities earn him a place among the Nazi elite. The novel was on over a dozen year-end lists, including Barnes & Noble, Slate, NPR’s Fresh Air, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, Kirkus, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. All the Light We Cannot See spent more than three and a half years on The New York Times bestseller list and an eagerly anticipated limited series adaptation is forthcoming from Netflix.
Nature is also an important theme in Doerr’s novel About Grace, the story of a scientist who flees the country after having a premonition that he causes the accidental death of his baby daughter. Doerr’s memoir Four Seasons in Rome is a carefully observed account of the year he spent as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome, accompanied by his wife and infant twin sons. His second story collection, Memory Wall, features characters from all over the world grappling with issues of preservation and extinction, permanence and evanescence.
“Doerr’s prose dazzles, his sinewy sentences blending the naturalists’ unswerving gaze with the poet’s gift for metaphor.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“For me, the natural world is always telling big stories about humongous scales of time,” Doerr said when discussing Memory Wall. “And I often feel simultaneously terrified and humbled by those scales and in awe, and delighted that I get to be here; that I’m lucky enough, that we are lucky enough to get to experience these things for the tiny finger snap of time that we get to be on Earth. So, in a lot of ways, my fiction is about trying to pay homage to the grandeur of the scales of time in the natural world. And I feel like memory is a part of that. Memory is this one attempt to not be erased by time.”
Up next is Cloud Cuckoo Land, soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story. In a story spanning the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, a public library in modern-day Idaho, and a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, the heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are linked by an ancient text that provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is about the power of story and a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart. It is forthcoming in September 2021.
Doerr’s fiction has been translated into over forty languages, and is anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He was the editor of The Best American Short Stories 2019. Doerr won the Story Prize, the most prestigious prize in the US for a collection of short stories; and the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, the largest prize in the world for a single short story.
Doerr lectures all over the country on originality, the importance of failure, and the role of wonder in contemporary life. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he now lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two sons.
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