Paul Harding, an alumnus and currently a visiting faculty member in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Harding was honored for his debut novel, Tinkers. Harding graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2000 and is a visiting faculty member for the spring semester.
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday, April 12.
The Pulitzer judges praised the book as "a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality."
Harding says, between responding to more than a hundred voice messages, "I'm just humbled and astonished and overjoyed. Part of my disbelief is that I'm the protagonist."
Harding's win has been the lead of most Pulitzer news stories, both because he is a first-time novelist, and because his book was published by the Bellevue Literary Press, a tiny publisher primarily devoted to books that straddle the line between arts and science.
Harding describes the book as "hand-sold," as opposed to the marketing might of major publishers. "It just makes me feel so good for all the people at this very small publisher," he says. "There are still people out there who want you to write good books and read good books."
At the Writers' Workshop, Harding studied with Pulitzer winner Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth McCracken, and Barry Unsworth. "These are the people who modeled the writing life for me," Harding says.
More than 40 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to UI faculty members and alumni, including more than 25 prizes to writers associated with the Writers' Workshop. Currently, two other workshop faculty members are Pulitzer winners -- workshop alumnus James Alan McPherson, who won for the short-story collection "Elbow Room," and Marilynne Robinson, who won the prize in 2005 for the novel "Gilead."
For additional information about the Pulitzer Prizes, visit www.pulitzer.org.
by Winston Barclay