Tinkers


192 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781934137123


Ebook

ISBN: 9781934137222




Share on Goodreads

“A powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality.”

Pulitzer Prize citation

( link)
see more reviews hide reviews

“An exquisite novel . . . told with a voice so keen and beautiful as to leave the reader in a state of excitement produced only by literature, and the best literature at that.”

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize judges’ citation

( link)

“In this lyrical novel, the life of a dying man is examined through the smallest moments of time and memory.”

American Library Association Notable Book citation

( link)

“An exquisitely written novel that captures the mysteries of relationships, memories and time passing in language that is both spare and lyrical. It is a true gem that sparkles with thoughtfulness, intelligence and life.”

New Hampshire State Library, International DUBLIN Literary Award Longlist citation

( link)

“There are few perfect debut American novels. . . . To this list ought to be added Paul Harding’s devastating first book, Tinkers. . . .  Harding has written a masterpiece.”

NPR Best Debut Fiction of the Year citation

( link)

“A novel with an old-­fashioned meditative quality so perfectly done that it is refreshing to read in a world filled with noises and false excitements. . . . It brings the reader to a closer understand­ing of his own life than he could have imagined before taking the journey.”

Granta Best Books of the Year citation

“Quiet, moving, breathtakingly crafted.”

Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation

“This compact, adamantine debut dips in and out of the consciousness of a New England patriarch. . . . In Harding’s skillful evocation, Crosby’s life, seen from its final moments, becomes a mosaic of memories.”

New Yorker

( link)

“Alive with gorgeous sentences.”

Elle 

( link)

“[An] astonishing novel.”

Los Angeles Times

( link)

“In Paul Harding’s stunning first novel, we find what readers, writ­ers and reviewers live for.”

San Francisco Chronicle

( link)

Tinkers is a poignant exploration of where we may journey when the clock has barely a tick or two left and we really can’t go any­where at all.”

Boston Globe

( link)

“Few contemporary writers have [Harding’s] gift for uniting language and nature through a powerful imagination. Tinkers is a father-son story told with skill, depth and beauty.”

Concord Monitor

( link)

“The life and death questions Paul Harding raises in Tinkers, as well as the richness of his writing, keep a reader coming back to it. . . . Like Faulkner, he never shies away from describing what seems impossible to put into words.”

Dallas Morning News 

“Vivid and original. . . . Tinkers [is] going to be around for a long, long time.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“This beautiful novel is sui generis; the most insignificant events . . . radiate fire and light.”

Star Tribune

( link)

“Stunning. . . . Harding, who apprenticed with his horologist grandfather, uses the clock as a metaphor for the cosmos and its deeper intricacies and mysteries.”

Courier-Journal

“This is a book so meticulously assembled that vocabulary choices like ‘craquelure’ and ‘scrieved’—far from seeming pretentious—serve as reminders of how precise and powerful a tool good English can be.”

Christian Science Monitor

( link)

“Tantalizing. . . . Tinkers takes an uncompromising look at the complex emotional geometry that exists between parents and children.”

London Review of Books

( link)

“The most captivating exploration of history, time and human consciousness. . . . An expert piece of historical and psychological archaeology, which unpicks the (bewitching) intricacies of ordinary life while also asking the terrifying, unanswerable, yet endlessly fascinating questions that haunt us all.”

Guardian

( link)

“Among the many triumphs of this novel, Harding enables a reader to look at the world differently.”

Telegraph

( link)

“Sometimes a novel beguiles from the opening sentence. Paul Harding’s seductive Pulitzer-winning debut does precisely that [and] the prism of an entire world emerges. . . . The story and the stories within it flow like water over stones.”

Irish Times

( link)

“Harding is a first-rate writer, and his fascination with what makes his characters tick recommends him as a philosopher, as well.”

Time Out Chicago

( link)

“Unique, captivating, and a measure more magical than most other contemporary novels.”

Guernica

( link)

“A luminous novel . . . that is not about death but instead an investi­gation into what life is all about. . . . The precipice is what Harding is so concentrated on, as though he were holding a magnifying glass up under bright sunlight and setting fire to the page.”

Quarterly Conversation 

( link)

“This excellent debut proves Harding to be a writer of exceptional poise, possessing clear-eyed skill and, like his characters, a steady hand for the finest of details.”

Rumpus

( link)

“Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense.”

Booklist (starred review)

( link)

“Outstanding. . . . The real star is Harding’s language, which dazzles whether he’s describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

( link)

“Filled with lovely Whitmanesque descriptions of the natural world, this slim novel gives shape to the extraordinary variety in the thoughts of otherwise ordinary men.”

Kirkus Reviews

( link)

“A novel that you’ll want to savor. . . . I found reading it to be an incredibly moving experience. . . . This book begs to be read aloud.”

Nancy Pearl, KUOW.org

( link)

“A complex reflection on memory, consciousness, and the meaning of life.”

Diane Rehm, Diane Rehm Show “Readers’ Review” Book Club

( link)

“Paul Harding’s Tinkers is not just a novel—though it is a brilliant novel. It’s an instruction manual on how to look at nearly everything. Harding takes the back off to show you the miraculous ticking of the natural world, the world of clocks, generations of family, an epileptic brain, the human soul. In astounding language sometimes seemingly struck by lightning, sometimes as tight and complicated as clockwork, Harding shows how enormous fiction can be, and how economical. Read this book and marvel.”

Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck and Bowlaway

Tinkers is truly remarkable. It achieves and sustains a unique fusion of language and perception. Its fine touch plays over the textured richnesses of very modest lives, evoking again and again a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of the senses. It confers on the reader the best privilege fiction can afford, the illusion of ghostly proximity to other human souls.”

Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead and What Are We Doing Here?

“A work of great power and originality. There is a striking freedom of style here, which allows the author to move without any sense of strain or loss of balance from the visionary and ecstatic to the exquisitely precise. The novel is compelling to read, sometimes horrific, and deeply moving because it is woven together into the single quilt of our humanity.”

Barry Unsworth, author of Sacred Hunger and The Quality of Mercy

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 to 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

New York Times Bestseller

Additional Accolades

American Library Association Notable Book * American Booksellers Association Indie Next List & Indies Choice Honor Award * International DUBLIN Literary Award Longlist * Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction Finalist * Center For Fiction First Novel Prize Finalist

Named One of the Best Novels of the Year by

NPR * New Yorker * San Francisco Chronicle * Christian Science Monitor * Irish Times * Granta * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * Barnes & Noble * Amazon.com

 

 

 

Excerpt from Tinkers

Nearly seventy years before George died, his father, Howard Aaron Crosby, drove a wagon for his living. It was a wooden wagon. It was a chest of drawers mounted on two axles and wooden spoked wheels. There were dozens of drawers, each fitted with a recessed brass ring, pulled open with a hooked forefinger, that contained brushes and wood oil, tooth powder and nylon stockings, shaving soap and straight-edge razors. There were drawers with shoe shine and boot strings, broom handles and mop heads. There was a secret drawer where he kept four bottles of gin. Mostly, back roads were his route, dirt tracks that ran into the deep woods to hidden clearings where a log cabin sat among sawdust and tree stumps and a woman in a plain dress and hair pulled back so tight that she looked as if she were smiling(which she was not) stood in a crooked doorway with a cocked squirrel gun. Oh, it’s you, Howard. Well, I guess I need one of your tin buckets. In the summer, he sniffed heather and sang someone’s rocking my dreamboat and watched the monarch butterflies (butter fires, flutter flames; he imagined himself somewhat of a poet) up from Mexico. Spring and fall were his most prosperous times, fall because the backwoods people stocked up for the winter (he piled goods from the cart onto blazing maple leaves), spring because they had been out of supplies often for weeks before the roads were passable for his first rounds. Then they came to the wagon like sleepwalkers: bright-eyed and ravenous. ometimes he came out of the woods with orders for coffins—a child, a wife wrapped up in burlap and stiff in the woodshed.

He tinkered. Tin pots, wrought iron. Solder melted and cupped in a clay dam. Quicksilver patchwork. Occasionally, a pot hammered back flat, the tinkle of tin sibilant, tiny beneath the lid of the boreal forest. Tinkerbird, coppersmith, but mostly a brush and mop drummer.

The stubbornness of some of the country women with whom Howard came into contact on his daily rounds cultivated in him, he believed, or would have believed, had he ever consciously thought about the matter, an unshakable, reasoning patience. When the soap company discontinued its old detergent for a new formula and changed the design on the box the soap came in, Howard had to endure debates he would have quickly conceded, were his adversaries not paying customers.

Where’s the soap?

This is the soap.

The box is different.

Yes, they changed it.

What was wrong with the old box?

Nothing.

Why’d they change it?

Because the soap is better.

The soap is different?

Better.

Nothing wrong with the old soap.

Of course not, but this is better.

Nothing wrong with the old soap. How can it be better?

Well, it cleans better.

Cleaned fine before.

This cleans better — and faster.

Well, I’ll just take a box of the normal soap.

This is the normal soap now.

I can’t get my normal soap?

This is the normal soap; I guarantee it.

Well, I don’t like to try a new soap.

It’s not new.

Just as you say, Mr. Crosby. Just as you say.

Well, ma’am, I need another penny.

Another penny? For what?

The soap is a penny more, now that it’s better.

I have to pay a penny more for different soap in a blue box? I’ll just take a box of my normal soap.




Read an in-depth interview with Paul Harding about his work at the Millions and listen to Christopher Lydon’s interviews with him about Tinkers and Enon on WBUR Open Source.

Watch Paul Harding discuss the story behind Tinkers on PBS NewsHour.

Listen to Paul Harding and BLP publisher Erika Goldman discuss the Pulitzer Prize win on NPR Weekend Edition.

Read about the dramatic Tinkers “Cinderella story” in the New York Times and elsewhere.

Discover more about the independent booksellers and other literary champions who “made Tinkers happen” in Bookselling This Week.

Listen to Paul Harding read from Tinkers on KQED Writers’ Block.

Tune in to the Diane Rehm Show “Readers’ Review” book club discussion about Tinkers.