Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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Random House, Inc.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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

One of Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Best Books of 2017 So Far • Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

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

Baker & Taylor
Traces a night of solitary mourning and reflection as experienced by the sixteenth president after the death of his eleven-year-old son at the dawn of the Civil War.

Baker
& Taylor

A long-awaited first novel by the National Book Award-nominated, New York Times best-selling author of Tenth of December traces a night of solitary mourning and reflection as experienced by the 16th President after the death of his 11-year-old son at the dawn of the Civil War.

Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780812995343
Branch Call Number: FIC Saund
Characteristics: 341 pages ; 25 cm

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debwalker Oct 17, 2017

Just won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

n
njon38
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.

b
becker
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.

l
ladiablesse
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.

y
yesucan
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!

w
WCLSDemingLibrary
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.)

athompson10 Aug 05, 2017

Brilliant, creative, loved it. A worthy Man Booker nominee.

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 01, 2017

Well, I kinda hated his short stories and I kinda hated this novel, which about Lincoln's dead son or something. In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo is the period of existence between death and rebirth. Huh.

s
sevenup
Jul 20, 2017

I really loved this book. Of course, I love anything that Saunders writes. At first, I was really thrown off by the narrative style, but once I got accustomed to it (It's similar to a chorus in a play), I was off and running.

Saunders' writing always shows so much insight into human nature, both good and bad. This book made me laugh, and also moved me to being near tears.

HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

I work in a bookstore and tell people I recommend "Lincoln in the Bardo" to that they should read the first few chapters with a fully open mind, and then when they've figured out what's going on to go back to the beginning and start again. That's what I did and ended up loving this book. It's clever (but not in a pretentious way as some have suggested). It's also funny, sad, tender and very very entertaining. It might take you a couple tries to get fully into it, but once you do, you won't be able to put it down.

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