Writer Paul Harding gave himself a tough act to follow. His first novel, Tinkers, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.
It took place in northern New England, a locale he returns to in his latest novel, Enon. And the book’s protagonist is the grandson of the lead character in the latest novel.
But while the stories are far different, the stories both share Harding’s impeccable writing skill, and his fearless taking on of a subject that most of us would rather avoid: death.
It's a challenging topic for any writer, but Harding took it one step further by centering on a father's grief.
"If the basic premise of the novel is a parent losing his only child, you take one false step in any direction and you have maudlin, melodramatic, sentimental hogwash," he says.
Harding, who was in Milwaukee in the fall, says he spent two years immersed in the subject in order to make the story, the characters and their grief feel real.
Listen to him an excerpt below.