Dark Horse

How Tinkers Won a Pulitzer

Paul Harding's novel Tinkers became the first small-press book in more than three decades to win a Pulitzer this year, and it did so without a Twitter feed or Facebook page. Old-fashioned word of mouth among a handful of literati got this small-press dark horse to the top of Pulitzer pile, The Boston Globe reports. Harding's editor at Bellvue Literary Press passed the book to an editor of Publisher's Weekly, who ran a starred review of Tinkers, raising its profile. Meanwhile, a sales representative for a group of small presses who adored the book managed to sell five copies to a small independent bookstore whose buying director passed it to John Freeman, who featured the book as one of the year's best on NPR. The bookstore's buying director also passed a copy to an editor at Random House, who signed Harding for his next two books. The book gained steam, garnering reviews from The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe, and ultimately, winning the Pulitzer.