Feature

Novel of the week: Tinkers by Paul Harding

Harding's Tinkers is the first small-press novel to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction since John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces did so in 1981.

(Bellevue Literary Press, $14.95)

Last week’s surprise winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction initially escaped many critics’ notice, said The Wall Street Journal. The first small-press novel to win the honor since John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces did so in 1981, Paul Harding’s slim debut “chronicles in elegant prose” the dying days of a New England man with a passion for repairing antique clocks. George Washington Crosby lies, hallucinating, on a bed in his living room, reflecting back on his childhood and his father, an epileptic who sold soap from a wagon. Yet this novel’s not about his life so much as it is “about the labyrinthine journey all of our lives will take” during our final hours of consciousness, said Chris Bohjalian in The Boston Globe. Harding sometimes overwrites, but his protagonist’s memories “are rendered with an exactitude that is poetic.” Harding’s raw materials are “the ebb and flow of life,” said Carole Goldberg in The Hartford Courant. He regards every detail “with a watchmaker’s eye.”

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