Paul Harding was born near Boston in 1967. He grew up in the small town of Wenham, Massachusetts, and became an apprentice to his grandfather, a watchmaker. After high school he attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he was one of the founders of the independent rock band Cold Water Flat. As their drummer, and with a BA in English in his pocket, he toured the USA and Europe. However, the group broke up in the mid-nineties, and Harding, a dedicated reader already in his childhood, joined the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. There he studied with famous writers, including Booker Prize winner Barry Unsworth and Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson. At the time he worked on the novel that would make him known later.
After completing his studies with an MFA, he became a lecturer for creative writing at evening school, and in Harvard. He continued to write his debut, which was finally published by a small, independent publishing house in 2009. »Tinkers« is about an old man, who suffers from cancer and will die soon. He hallucinates, and apparently the world around him falls apart. Like the author’s grandfather he is a watchmaker, who is finally free from the bonds of time. In his memories he rejoins his father, a hawker suffering from epileptic seizures, who died 70 years earlier. When looking back at the pain and suffering of his childhood, the dying man re-discovers the awe-inspiring beauty and incalculable risk of nature. The Pulitzer Board praised Harding’s novel as »a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality«. The Pulitzer Prize made Harding famous. His debut novel was inspired by American transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Other inspirational sources are Henry James, Thomas Mann, and religious writers like Karl Barth. »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« (»Publishers Weekly«).
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his first novel, the author has received further awards. He was a Robert Bingham Fellow of PEN American Center and Guggenheim Fellow. Paul Harding lives and works near Boston.
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