192 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781934137123


ISBN: 9781934137222

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“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

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“An exquisite novel, at once fresh and hauntingly familiar, simple and profound, 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 citation

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“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

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“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.”

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist nominee citation (from the New Hampshire State Library)

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“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

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

Diane Rehm Show “Readers’ Review” Book Club

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“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

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“This compact, adamantine début 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

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“Alive with gorgeous sentences.”


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“A perfect read for reflection and short enough to finish in an afternoon.”

First for Women

“[An] astonishing novel.”

Los Angeles Times

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

San Francisco Chronicle

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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

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“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

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

Minneapolis Star Tribune

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“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

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“Stunning . . . Writing in an economical style and transcendental spirit reminiscent of his friend and mentor, the award-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, Harding, who apprenticed with his horologist grandfather, uses the clock as a metaphor for the cosmos and its deeper intricacies and mysteries.”

Louisville Courier-Journal

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“This Cinderella winner of the Pulitzer Prize is alive with miraculous sentences.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

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

London Review of Books

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“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

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“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

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“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.”

Yiyun Li, Granta.com Best Books of the Year

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

Guernica: A Magazine of Arts and Politics

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“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 

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“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.”


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“Quiet, moving, breathtakingly crafted.”

Library Journal Best Books of the Year

“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)

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“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)

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“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

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“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 Niagara Falls All Over Again

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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home, Gilead, and Housekeeping

“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, Booker Prize-winning author of The Ruby in Her Navel

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
  • 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




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?


Why’d they change it?

Because the soap is better.

The soap is different?


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.

The NYTimes Book Review lauds Paul Yoon’s Snow Hunters and other “remarkable short novels [to] have emerged in the recent past: Tinkers, by Paul Harding; Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson; The Sojourn, by Andrew Krivak; The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. Far from slight, they all deal with large themes and subjects…the experience more akin to reading poetry or short fiction, where what is left out is at least as important as what remains.”

Listen to an interview with Paul Harding on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a performance on John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders.



Read more about the dramatic “Cinderella story” behind Tinkers in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Boston Globe.

Tune in to the Diane Rehm Show “Readers’ Review” book club discussion and find additional reading and study group resources at Book Drum.