Lincoln in the Bardo (Hardcover)

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Saunders, the author of four short story collections, turns back the clock to 1862 for his remarkable first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. Based on the death of Abraham Lincoln's son Willy, this is the fantastical tale of the boy's spiritual transition into the next world--the "bardo," in Tibetan tradition­. Most of the novel occurs in the cemetery where Willy's body lies freshly interred. His tale is narrated by a Greek chorus of ghosts who remain tethered to the physical realm. Willy Lincoln's spirit is similarly trapped by his father's reluctance to let him go. The President spends the night in the cemetery, seeking the strength to accept not just Willy's death, but also the deaths of thousands of Civil War soldiers. Despite the dark subject matter, Saunders is a bighearted storyteller, and his gloriously absurdist humor lights a bright path through his inventive, thoughtful, and entertaining debut novel.

— Michael

Description


#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

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

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812995343
ISBN-10: 0812995341
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Pages: 368
Language: English