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Globe Editorial

‘Tinkers’: Success, one reader at a time

April 16, 2010

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Toiling writers everywhere should take heart in the tale of Paul Harding, who won the Pulitzer Prize this week for his debut novel, “Tinkers.’’ At first, the 42-year-old writer from Georgetown could find no one to publish his book, which follows an old man’s meandering mind in the days leading up to his death. But Harding kept passing his manuscript around, and eventually, his work wound up in the hands of people who adored it: a small publisher; an editor of Publisher’s Weekly; a sales representative in San Francisco; a radio reviewer; an administrator from the Pulitzer office, who urged that the book be entered for the prize and waived the $50 submission fee.

“Tinkers’’ is famous now — the first book from a small publisher to win the Pulitzer in almost 30 years — and well on its way to bestseller status. That’s a testament to Harding’s perseverance, but also to the power of the written word. Harding’s rich prose drove some people to weep and many others to proselytize. And while the publishing industry remains glutted with celebrity authors, movie tie-ins, niche marketing schemes and Twittery sales gimmicks, it’s worth remembering that some novels are still good enough to sell themselves.

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