Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
- Publish Date: 2017-02-14
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: George Saunders
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER â¢ 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 Lincolnâs 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. âMy poor boy, he was too good for this earth,â the president says at the time. âGod has called him home.â Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boyâs 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 stateâcalled, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardoâa monumental struggle erupts over young Willieâs soul.
Lincoln in the BardoÂ is an astonishingÂ 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 fictionâs 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 weÂ know that everything we love must end?
Praise for Lincoln in the Bardo
âA luminous feat of generosity and humanism.ââColson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review
âA masterpiece.ââZadie Smith
âIngenious . . . Saundersâwell on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twainâcrafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows.ââVogue
âSaunders is the most humane American writer working today.ââHarperâs Magazine
âThe novel beats with a present-day urgencyâa nation at war with itself, the unbearable grief of a father who has lost a child, and a howling congregation of ghosts, as divided in death as in life, unwilling to move on.ââVanity Fair
âA brilliant, Buddhist reimagining of an American story of great loss and great love.ââElle
âWildly imaginativeââMarie Claire
âMesmerizing . . . Dantesque . . . A haunting American ballad.ââPublishers Weekly (starred review)
âExhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us.â âKirkus Reviews (starred review)
âItâs unlike anything youâve ever read, except that the grotesque humor, pathos, and, ultimately, human kindness at its core mark it as a work that could come only from Saunders.ââThe National