Published June 10, 2020 by Tom Porter

Observations, Reflections, and Advice from a Prize-Winning Novelist

As part of Reunion Weekend in early June, acclaimed novelist Tony Doerr ’95, H’17 checked in for a virtual chat with Bowdoin’s A. Leroy Greason Professor of English and Chair of the English Department Brock Clarke.

Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 2014 novel All the Light We Cannot See and also writes short stories and nonfiction. With his twenty-fifth class reunion scuppered due to lockdown restrictions, Doerr called in from his home in Boise, Idaho.

In a live conversation lasting a little over an hour, he took questions from Clarke, himself a published novelist, and various listeners. They covered a number of topics, including the limitations of language (“language is this invented human thing, and you’re fumbling to describe things that are ultimately beyond language”), the act of writing (“it becomes a practice that you need to stay sane”), and advice to budding novelists (“don’t research to the point where you feel you have to understand everything about a subject before you begin. Just get going!”).

The conversation was introduced by director of Alumni Relations Rodie Lloyd.