Tonight I heard about the 2010 winner for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press). This particular novel, Joshua and I have agreed, is going to be last on our reading list, despite how much I am interested in the story. And that’s fine, considering it’s probably going to be pretty difficult finding it at used bookstores for a while.
I found a short little article about it online and I’m genuinely impressed:
A lyrical, 191-page account of a man’s dying days and his relationship with his father, Tinkers got great reviews but is published by Bellevue Literary Press, a small, 3-year-old, non-profit publisher affiliated with New York University’s School of Medicine.
Editorial director Erika Goldman says Tinkers has sold 15,000 copies since its publication in January 2009. That’s a hit for a small press but nothing by commercial standards. Bellevue plans to reprint more copies but hasn’t decided how many.
The last time a small publisher won the fiction Pulitzer was in 1981, for John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces, released by Louisiana University Press.
Harding, 42, says he’s “stunned. It was a little book from a little publisher that was hand-sold from start to finish.” The Pulitzer’s “imprimatur,” he says, adds “a sense of freedom. I can afford to continue doing what I love to do.”