Paul Harding is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and he was back at the Workshop as visiting faculty when he learned he’d won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Tinkers, his first novel.
He was back on campus in April 2011 to participate in the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine Examined Life Conference, making time to sit down for this On the Fly interview.
In the interview, he discusses his influences—including his instructors at the Workshop, Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth McCracken, and Barry Unsworth—his “nonstop book tour” following his Pulitzer win, and his obsession with “getting the text perfect.” He also discusses the questions he is most often asked since winning the Pulitzer, allowing him to tell “the interesting, unlikely story” of the publication of Tinkers.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Tinkers earned the 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, among other honors. Harding’s second novel, Enon, was published in 2013, and revisits some of the characters from Tinkers.