Paul Harding’s weird end run from noble obscurity to a Pulitzer

As you may know, Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize last week for his novel, Tinkers.

Oh, you didn’t know? Neither did Harding, who found out only by looking on the Pulitzer website. I learned the story from the April 15 Boston Globe article, A tide of affection for prose that nearly went unpublished. Read the whole article; it’s short and it’s inspiring.

Harding, like many great and not-so-great writers, had a stockpile of rejection letters before a small, nonprofit publisher – attached to NYU’s medical school – picked up his manuscript and published it.

According to the Globe article:

“The author’s unlikely success story is rooted in a series of personal interactions between publishers, booksellers, and reviewers that launched a book the old-fashioned way. There were no media campaigns, Twitter feeds, or 30-city tours. Instead, the success of Tinkers can be linked to a handful of people who were so moved by the richly lyrical story of an old man facing his final days that they had to tell others about it.”

I love stories like Harding’s, where karma and talent converge. (It’s even sweeter that he’s a fellow UMass alum!)

A final quote from the Boston Globe article:

“I just keep thinking of Keith Richards, wearing that ‘Who the [expletive] is Mick Jagger’ T-shirt. That’s the story line. What the hell? Where did this come from? This weird end run from noble obscurity to a Pulitzer.’’

Congratulations, Paul Harding. I’m heading out to get your book now. Tweet or no tweet.

12 comments to Paul Harding’s weird end run from noble obscurity to a Pulitzer

  • Proof that a good novel with stand on its own. Hope for us all. Especially for those of us, who would prefer to spend their time writing over networking.

  • Funny-funny-funny! I had Junot Diaz’s book in my hand yesterday and put it back on the shelf. I remember being so moved by the interview you posted, Natasha, that I really wanted to read his book. I decided to wait and get it at the library instead of buying it.
    But, I also spent some time looking into Haven Kimmel’s books. You have recommended her so highly I can’t get her out of my head. I was drawn to Iodine for a very specific reason(more on that later), have you read it?

  • Natasha

    I haven’t read Iodine yet. I’ve read The Solace of Leaving Early and Something Rising (Light and Swift) which are the first two books of a very loose trilogy. I started The Used World, the last of the trilogy and then got worried because I’d spent the entire month reading instead of writing and I was afraid I’d forgotten how to write at all…

    I love Kimmel’s writing. Let me know what you think.

  • I just finished “A Girl Names Zippy” because it was the only one of her (Kimmel) books they had at our library. It was a hoot! I read several chapters out loud to my husband. I also read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marouez and I need someone to tell me what they thought about it! I was confused at all the names that were the same or similiar and had to keep looking at the family tree they had at the front of the book (thank goodness). It didn’t keep my interest. Who else has read it and can give me their take? I’m off to look for “Tinkers”!

    • Natasha

      I took One Hundred Years of Solitude out of the library last week, and so far the cat has enjoyed sleeping on it. I’ve read about three pages and yes, it seems like there are alot of the same names! I’m taking it back to the library because I made some serious book scores at a used book sale this week-end — which I will write about in my next post.
      Glad you liked Zippy! Her fiction is quite different than her memoirs.

  • “‘peeks my interest’ is one of my pet peeves” HAHAHA!

    I can’t wait to hear about your book scores from the book sale. Don’t you just love the smell of used books? Yum…

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