Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A Novel

Large Print - 2017
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A New York Times Bestselling AuthorAn Indie Next PickA Publishers Weekly Top 10 Spring Literary FictionFebruary 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.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine :, Thorndike Press,, ©2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781410497475
Branch Call Number: LPE FICTION SAU
Characteristics: 475 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

This one 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. Our copies may be getting worn out!

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 »

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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Nov 29, 2017

Didn't know George Saunders from Adam but am now in love with this inventive, unique mind that manages to describe crushing grief, confusion, the horrors of civil war, the smallness and the greatness of the human spirit through excerpts from writings of Lincoln's period and the musings of numerous 'spirits' unwilling to leave the between-world of the bardo. Fascinating, constantly surprising, a tour de force, but not an easy read.

Cynthia_N Nov 25, 2017

This was a tough read for me. I struggled some with the format (multiple POVs) and the disjointedness of it but it did eventually come together for me enough to enjoy some of the story.

Nov 02, 2017

The 2017 Mann Booker Prize winner will not be everyone's cup of tea. The premise is the historical fact that Abraham Lincoln's young son, Willie, has died. A few nights later, Lincoln, wracked with grief and bowed by fatigue, visits the cemetery. The bardo comes from a Tibetan Buddhist concept of the place between death and rebirth. The book is written in many voices, mostly from inhabitants of the bardo (including Willie) who come from all walks of life and sometimes from historical and more contemporary works about Lincoln and Willie. At times the book seems brilliant and at other times, I found it just plain confusing. Fortunately, the book is a quick read.

Oct 21, 2017

Saunders is a genius, and this book is a work of genius. Which is not to say everyone will love it the way I did. I read it non-stop and was done way too quickly. I loved the different voices describing the same thing (the moon, Lincoln's eyes) or event (a party, a funeral) - how difficult it is for humans to know anything surely! I loved the metaphysic of Saunders' afterlife, blending Tibetan Buddhism with C.S. Lewis and adding a dash of Saunders' own astute wit. This is a book that bears re-reading, and fully deserves every prize it has won and will win.

debwalker Oct 17, 2017

Just won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

Oct 07, 2017

Without a doubt the most unique novel I've read in a long time. "Bardo" is a limbo, that place between worlds and is the place we find Willie Lincoln who died at age 11 of typhoid. When President Lincoln come to the cemetery to visit him it riles up many other spirits also in the Bardo. It is about freedom and slavery, body and spirit, the civil war and the author says the novel’s "Apparent Narrative Rationale" is that it is about Abraham Lincoln. Although odd and somewhat difficult to get a handle on, it is well worth the read.

Sep 13, 2017

This book was incredibly unique, well written and poignant. I am so glad to have read it. Despite this, it is a difficult book to recommend. Or perhaps I just don't know where to begin to explain it. The story itself is simple and sad. It is a story of the grief Lincoln experiences when his young son dies. It's the telling of the story that is interesting and unusual. Told through the many voices of the souls in the crypt where the boy lays. If you appreciate the work of George Saunders or if you are curious to read something with a unique and creative format, this book will not disappoint you.

Sep 04, 2017

As other commentators have weighed in, this is a book that divides readers. I had listened to Saunders in interview and was captivated by his reading of a brief section at the beginning, in the voice of one of his main narrators. So I had a lot of anticipation going in... The Spoon River Anthology analogy is very apt, and if approached more as script than novel, per se, the book does gain in emotional impact.
Like another reader, I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I found the real and fictionalized references somewhat distracting and cumbersome, hindering what was a meandering story to mid-point. And the concentrated focus on men and male grief seemed somewhat claustrophobic by the end. Inventive, yes, clever, without a doubt. But I felt its cleverness and scholarship, and like most children, I'd rather not have a magician disclose their tricks.

Aug 26, 2017

I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so confusing. Hated the way the story is told and just did not enjoy it!

Aug 05, 2017

The way the particular Bardo of the book and all its dimensions are slowly revealed, and the characters whose stories I learn through their own confused/illusive/wandering/clear voices = an amazing feat of writing and spirit and magic. Heart, hilarity, and history. Longing and levity. I so highly recommend this book. (Now on the long list for the 2017 Man Booker prize.)

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