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Weird, yes—but also warm, funny, moving, and immensely readable. I found myself looking forward to spending time each evening with Saunders’ highly flawed but likable graveyard denizens.
The format of the book is unusual and sounds artificial when described. But it works well. By incorporating historical (as well as fictional historical) accounts of the Lincoln White House era, Saunders provides both background and a sense of intimacy.
This is a humorous and accurate portrait of grief created with economy and precision. I would urge doubtful readers to give it twenty pages and see if they are not pulled in. I was.
— Barbette Houser
Summer 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“The fact that Saunders’ first novel is awesome is no surprise, but everything else about it is. Lincoln in the Bardo takes a historical event and uses a recognizable form—bibliographic citation—and flips it, flips us, until we are no longer able to distinguish what is truth. Saunders reminds us that, ultimately, history is just people telling stories.”
— Claire Anderson-Ramos, BookPeople, Austin, TX
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented
Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, USA Today, and Maureen Corrigan, NPR - One of Time's Ten Best Novels of the Year - A New York Times Notable Book
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?"A luminous feat of generosity and humanism."--Colson Whitehead, TheNew York Times Book Review "A masterpiece."--Zadie Smith
About the Author
George Saunders is the author of eight books, including the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time's list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
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