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Lincoln in the bardo

Lincoln in the bardo

Saunders, George, 1958- author

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body. From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm - called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo - and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul

Hardback, Book. English. Biographical fiction. Historical.
Published London: Bloomsbury, 2017
from 25 users

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Statement of responsibility: George Saunders
ISBN: 1408871742, 9781408871744
Physical Description: 341 pages ; 25 cm
Subject: United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Fiction.; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Fiction.; Lincoln, William Wallace, 1850-1862 Fiction.

Author note

George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggen?heim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.


George Saunders's brilliant debut novel about a grieving Lincoln confirms him as a literary star . To read Saunders's fiction is to be dazzled by ingenuity, imagination and searing comic verve ... A tender but trenchant reminder that America is and always has been many-voiced: not one story, but millions
Sunday Times||A luminous feat of generosity and humanism. Such is Saunders's magnificent portraiture that readers will recognize in this wretchedness and bravery aspects of their own characters as well
New York Times||The most strange and brilliant book you'll read this year . Riotously imagined ... So intimate and human, so profound, that it seems like an act of grace
Financial Times||Dazzling and disorientating . As you turn the pages of this remarkable novel it starts to feel uncannily like a hinge in American history
The Times||It would be an understatement to call this novel an extraordinary tour de force ... Steeped in morality, it's a master-feat of vitality
Sunday Times||A breathtakingly agile narrative . A brilliant, exhausting, emotionally involving attempt to get up again, to fight for empathy, kindness and self-sacrifice, and to resist
Observer||A surreal metaphysical drama about grief and freedom ... A father-son narrative that is both hilarious and haunting
Evening Standard||Saunders's extraordinary verbal energy is harnessed, for the most part, in the service of capturing the pathos of everyday life . It is Saunders's beautifully realized portrait of Lincoln - caught at this hinge moment in time, in his own personal bardo, as it were - that powers this book
New York Times||A masterpiece
New York Times||An incredible work of art. Deeply moral, heartfelt, hilarious, and wildly imaginative
Buzzfeed||A strange and haunting novel - his highly anticipated first, after decades of short-story wizardry - about the effect the dead have on the living, and the living on the dead
Economist||The story canters along ... The writing constantly surprises
Mail on Sunday||Lincoln in the Bardo has great matters on its mind: freedom and slavery, the spirit and the body. But it is, finally, "about" Abraham Lincoln, that great spectral presence in a whole subgenre of American fiction
New Yorker||Must be one of my favourite novels. What a warm, kindhearted and radical piece of writing. Such delicacy, such serious wit. I love it||This is a book that confounds our expectations of what a novel should look and sound like
Washington Post||The much anticipated long-form debut from the US short-story maestro does not dissapoint
Guardian||An original father-son tale that expertly blends history and fiction (and even the supernatural), Lincoln in the Bardo explores grief, loss, life, death
Buzzfeed Year Ahead in Books||A historical novel like no other - a supernatural ensemble extravaganza of awesome intricacy and somewhat perplexing purpose ... A feat of style ... A polyphonic spree that spins the head
Daily Telegraph||George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time
Khaled Hosseini||A cacophonous, genre-busting book inspired by the death of Abraham Lincoln's young son
Metro||A morally passionate, serious writer ... He will be read long after these times have passed
Zadie Smith||He makes the all-but-impossible look effortless. We're lucky to have him
Jonathan Franzen||An astoundingly tuned voice - graceful, dark, authentic and funny
Thomas Pynchon||Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality, with a sure sense of his material and apparently inexhaustible resources of voice ... Scary, hilarious and unforgettable
Tobias Wolff||There is no one better, no one more essential
Dave Eggers||Few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does
Junot Diaz||Saunders is a true original - restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane
Jennifer Egan||Reading George Saunders is, it's safe to say, like no other literary experience
Observer||No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised
New York Times||Funny, poignant - in flashes, deeply moving - light as a feather and consistently weird||There is really no one like him. He is an original - but everyone knows that||Swings from hilarious to crushing and back again with astonishing dexterity . An exceptional novel . Believe the hype
Chicago Review of Books||Strange, profound, melancholy . In the final of Lincoln of the Bardo, the realities of death and loss are faced head-on ... Historical fiction will never be the same
Newsday||The author may have set out to write his first novel, but the work he completed is a genre unto itself
The Atlantic||An unsentimental novel of Shakespearean proportions, gorgeously stuffed with tragic characters, bawdy humor, terrifying visions, throat-catching tenderness, and a galloping narrative
Elle||One of the strangest books of mainstream fiction around, competing only with some of Saunders's own story collection for unbridled inventiveness
GQ||A matterlightblooming phenomenon. Loud and big. Exploding with grief and, more so, hope. And better left undescribed until you yourself reach the end
Time||It's only February but this will undoubtedly be considered one of the best books of 2017
Huffington Post||Wonderfully bizarre and hilariously terrifying examination of the ability to live and love
Poets & Writers||Moving and inventive tour de force
Sunday Times||Fiction taken to a new realm, and a work of sheer brilliance
GQ||This astounding novel pitches you into the strangest of places ... Brilliant
Psychologies||Devastatingly moving
People||Along with the wonderfully bizarre, empathy abounds in Lincoln
Time||A strange, wise novel, truer in its expression than many ostensibly historical novels
New Humanist||Tremendously moving ... Surpasses all expectations. This is a masterpiece
Sunday Express||An urgently political, profoundly moral book, albeit one so playful and so fantastical that the reader may hardly notice
Economist||A joyous, comically macabre exploration of love, death and loss ... Bursting with life
Bristol Post||Saunders is defined by a crackling, electric kind of empathy; by the kind of humbling understanding that simply comes from trying to look further, understand more, know deeper
The Brag||A hands-down masterpiece - the subject of Abraham Lincoln and the genius of this author is a perfect union . I wept while reading this book. It is singular - I've never read anything quite like it
International New York Times||I literally couldn't put it down . Hilarious to poignant to really moving
Irish Country||Surprising, daring, emotionally wrenching and warm-hearted
Sunday Times, Summer Reading, 'Our Top Five'||Fact and fiction mingle in this affecting portrait of a grieving president
Financial Times, Summer Reading||Best known for his critically acclaimed short stories, this is Saunders' first full-length novel, told with tenderness, imagination and wit
Zoe Apostolides, Daily Telegraph, Summer Reading||It's like a gothic, American Under Milk Wood
The Times, Summer Reading||I met the amazing George Saunders at a recent festival and can't wait to read Lincoln in the Bardo
Anne Enright, Irish Times||George Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo is an extraordinary act of poignant literary virtuosity about love, death, ghosts and history, starring the grieving president
Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Summer Reading||I was won over by the sheer brio, writerly flourish and humanity of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, which imagines a disputatious convocation of the dead observing the US president as he mourns his son
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard, Summer Reading||From his short stories, we might have expected Saunders's long-awaited first novel to be some sprawling vision of a future America. In fact, it's a historical novel - albeit one like no other . It's an admirable feat of style
Daily Telegraph, Summer Reading||I'll be working my way on backwards through George Saunders, having been hooked conclusively by Lincoln in the Bardo, tonal whimsies and all. I'm presently on Tenth of December, but I expect to have reached The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by the time we go on holiday
Francis Spufford, Guardian, Summer Reading||Huge excitement greeted this debut novel from the US short-story master. Abraham Lincoln mourns his dead son, while other spirits in the cemetery, hovering between life and death
Guardian (Review)||It revolves around the ghost of Abraham Lincoln's son, who died aged 11, and his fellows in the graveyard. There's no single narrator, but hundreds of different voices instead
Daily Telegraph||Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life
Irish Times