Lincoln in the Bardo
A NovelBook - 2017
February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth," the president says at the time. "God has called him home." Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's body.
From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state--called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo--a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul.
Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction's ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?
Praise for Lincoln in the Bardo
"A luminous feat of generosity and humanism." --Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review
"A masterpiece." -- Zadie Smith
"Ingenious . . . Saunders--well on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twain--crafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows." -- Vogue
"Saunders is the most humane American writer working today." --Harper's Magazine
"The novel beats with a present-day urgency--a nation at war with itself, the unbearable grief of a father who has lost a child, and a howling congregation of ghosts, as divided in death as in life, unwilling to move on." -- Vanity Fair
"A brilliant, Buddhist reimagining of an American story of great loss and great love." --Elle
"Wildly imaginative" --Marie Claire
"Mesmerizing . . . Dantesque . . . A haunting American ballad." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Exhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"It's unlike anything you've ever read, except that the grotesque humor, pathos, and, ultimately, human kindness at its core mark it as a work that could come only from Saunders." --The National
From Library Staff
Literary master Saunders spins
an unforgettable story of familial
love and loss that breaks free of
its realistic, historical framework
into a thrilling, supernatural
realm. Both hilarious and
This book is all over every 'Best of 2017' list, but we couldn't possibly leave it off 'Best Cover Art'. Some books are so beautiful it feels good just to hold them.
Told across one night, Abraham Lincoln's son finds himself in a kind of purgatory tied to the graveyard his father visits in his grief.
George Sanders’s bestselling debut novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo”, won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. It is set in a graveyard over the course of a single night and relates the story of President Lincoln’s grief following the death of his son, William Wallace Lincoln. This original and moving work is ... Read More »
amf_0 Apr 28, 2017
Wow! A highly unusual and strangely compelling read. I wasn't sure what I was reading at first (and this work might not be for everyone) but I was hooked. The tender relationship between Lincoln and Willie is especially well depicted . I found myself reading very carefully so I didn't miss a... Read More »
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All were in sorrow, or had been, or soon would be. It was the nature of things. Though on the surface it seemed every person was different, this was not true. At the core of each lay suffering; our eventual end, the many losses we must experience on the way to that end. We must try to see one another in this way. As suffering, limited beings, perennially outmatched by circumstances, inadequately endowed with compensatory graces.
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