In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other, for no one but Saunders could conceive it.
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 11-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 returned to the crypt several times alone 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 thrilling 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.
©2017 George Saunders (P)2017 Audible, Ltd
author of The Roman Mysteries & others
A stunning, surreal, and sometimes almost unbearably moving meditation on the human condition. The audio version with its faintly barking dog, cawing crows, sighing wind, period music and with every one of the 166 narrators perfect and distinctive, is a tour de force. They say that more books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than about any other historical person apart from Jesus Christ. Was there ever a man as tragic and noble as Lincoln? Sublime.
This is an amazingly inventive book, beautifully written and I suspect will stay with me. The audiobook is simply marvellous: David Sedaris is as always tremendous.
You won't find a more original, more moving book this year.
Saunders' first novel is as empathic and funny as his short stories, if grander and sadder. With its multiple narrators, the novel is especially suited to a full cast audiobook. The distinctive performances of Offerman and Sedaris, given the most lines, are perfect for their roles.
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