World War II novel wins Pulitzer Prize

Anthony Doerr, a finalist for the National Book Award last year, took home the Pulitzer Monday.

Story highlights

  • Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See" wins Pulitzer for fiction
  • Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Sixth Extinction" wins general nonfiction prize

(CNN)Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See," a novel centered on the World War II bombing of St.-Malo, France, and two characters on opposite sides of the war, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction Monday.

Doerr's novel had received rave reviews upon its release last spring.
"I must blame Anthony Doerr for lost sleep, because once I started reading his new novel, 'All the Light We Cannot See,' there was no putting it down," wrote William T. Vollmann in The New York Times Book Review.
    Doerr's work was also a finalist for the National Book Award. It's his second novel and fourth work of fiction, including two short story collections.
    "Between Riverside and Crazy," a play by Stephen Adly Guirgis, won the Pulitzer for drama. An earlier Guirgis work, "The Motherf***** with the Hat," ran on Broadway in 2011.
    Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" won the Pulitzer for general nonfiction. Kolbert, a New Yorker staff writer, tackles the idea that we're at the beginning of another mass die-off.
    "As the planet warms up, and carbon dioxide acidifies the oceans, all bets are off -- except the ones hinging on mass extinctions," wrote Nicholas Lazard in The Guardian.
    Despite that prospect, he added, "Kolbert's book is not, thankfully, as depressing as you might think. She has a good grip on her subject and uses a light touch when it is most needed."
    Other winners in arts and letters categories include "Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People" by Elizabeth A. Fenn (history); "The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe" by David I. Kertzer (biography/autobiography); "Anthracite Fields" by Julia Wolfe (music); and "Digest" by Gregory Pardlo (poetry).
    The Pulitzer Prizes are administered by Columbia University and are considered some of the most prestigious honors in journalism and literature.