Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel

George Saunders
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZEThe 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 inventedNamed 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 BookFebruary 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, The New York Times Book Review “A masterpiece.”—Zadie Smith

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-06-25

(Audio version)  I think I need to read this book. I know the audiobook has won award after award (as has the book), but it never really grabbed me. I couldn't keep my brain attached to the story. I got annoyed with it and kept rewinding, so I'm going to get an actual book copy of this from the library and try again. I love George Saunders. Honestly, the subject matter didn't interest me a ton from the blurb, so I waited. I'm a fan of his shorter work, though I quite liked Pastoralia (and don't really understand why that's not called a novel, but I digress.) 

So---this is a preliminary rating. Some books just don't work for me in audio. I've figured out that my brain likes to create its own sounds and sights etc, so I usually don't do audio on fiction unless it's fairly easy-breezy. Oddly I learn better from listening, but I don't like to read fiction this way as much (however, I adore audio for essays, nonfiction and many memoirs.) 

Honestly, I'm not all that pumped, now that I know the story, to read the book, but I feel like I owe George Saunders a decent chance. And I can't believe everyone on earth likes this book except me, so I'll read it eventually and redo this little review.

Item Posts
@rpavey
@rpavey completed #lincolninthebard... on 2018-10-20
@ellenmiller
@ellenmiller completed #lincolninthebard... on 2018-02-12