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Revisiting 'All The Light We Cannot See' With Anthony Doerr On Thursday's Access Utah

Simon and Schuster

  Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” was one of the most-mentioned books on our most recent UPR Community Booklist. The book was published in May 2014 and in September of that year Anthony Doerr visited Utah for several events as a part of the Utah Humanities Book Festival. He dropped by the UPR studios for a fascinating conversation with Tom Williams about “All the Light We Cannot See” and related topics. We’ll revisit that conversation today.


The New York Times bestseller “All the Light We Cannot See” tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.


Doerr says the novel is about the magic of radio, propaganda, a cursed diamond, children in Nazi Germany, puzzles, snails, the Natural History Museum in Paris, courage, fear, bombs, the magical seaside town of Saint-Malo in France, and the ways in which people, against all odds, try to be kind to one another.


And he says, referring to the book’s title, that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. And that, ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility.


Anthony Doerr was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of the story collectionsThe Shell Collector andMemory Wall, the memoirFour Seasons in Rome, and the novelsAbout Grace andAll the Light We Cannot See, which was awardedthe 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.


Doerr’s short stories and essays have won fourO. Henry Prizes and been anthologized inThe Best American Short Stories,New American Stories,The Best American Essays,The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction, and lots of other places. His work has been translated into over forty languages and won theBarnes & Noble Discover Prize, theRome Prize, theNew York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, aGuggenheim Fellowship, anNEA Fellowship, anAlex Award from the American Library Association, theNational Magazine Award for Fiction, fourPushcart Prizes, twoPacific Northwest Book Awards, fourOhioana Book Awards, the2010 Story Prize, which is considered the most prestigious prize in the U.S. for a collection of short stories, and theSunday Times EFG Short Story Award, which is the largest prize in the world for a single short story.All the Light We Cannot See was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and remained on the hardcover fiction bestseller list for 134 consecutive weeks.


Doerr lives inBoise, Idaho with his wife and two sons. Though he is often asked, as far as
he knows he is not related to the late writerHarriet Doerr.


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.