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Tinkers by Paul Harding

An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks. Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure.

A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost seven decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring.

Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.


  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner
  • PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize Winner
  • American Library Association Notable Book
  • New York Times Bestseller

Also... an American Booksellers Association Indie Choice Honor Award recipient, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist selection, Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum First Fiction Award Finalist, and Center For Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist

Named one of the best books of the year by the New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Irish Times, Granta, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and National Public Radio


The story behind this New York Times bestselling debut novel—the first independently published Pulitzer Prize winner since A Confederacy of Dunces received the award in 1981is as extraordinary as the elegant prose within it. Inspired by his family’s history, Paul Harding began writing Tinkers after his rock band broke up, but had to put the manuscript aside following numerous rejections from large publishers.

Encouraged by a friend to try again, Harding submitted his manuscript to Erika Goldman, publisher of the newly formed Bellevue Literary Press, who fell in love with it. Major contemporary novelists, including Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), provided glowing endorsements and independent booksellers from coast to coast soon became the book’s biggest champions. The New York Times declared it “the most dramatic literary Cinderella story of recent memory” and the sensational story is still being written as readers across the country, including President Obama, continue to discover what the Pulitzer Prize committee calls “a powerful celebration of life [that] offer[s] new ways of perceiving the world and mortality."
Copyright © 2010 by Bellevue Literary Press