Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

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 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 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.

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—living and dead, historical and invented—to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

Title:Lincoln in the Bardo
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780812995343
Format Type:

About George Saunders

George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981 he received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996. He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysi


    Lincoln in the Bardo Reviews

  • Liz

    I should have known. I really don't do well with the avant garde. I want a plot, I want a story. I want character development. This offers none of the above. I felt lost. Vague memories of Ionesco and...

  • Angela M

    It's a beautiful and sad but a strangely told story, and the narrative is different from anything I've read . The back of the cover description tells a poignant detail about Lincoln which Saunders in ...

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    ”The rich notes of the Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick-room in soft, subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far off spirits.” Keckley, op. cit. William Wallace Linco...

  • Elyse

    From the first day I saw that George Sanders had a new release--I kept walking. I had a lot of resistance to read George Sanders again. "The Tenth of December" was the number 1 best seller for months ...

  • Lisa

    Yes, I know I stand alone in my dislike for this book. EVERYONE loves it. Nope, not me. I actually hated it. I've heard people say they wanted to throw a book across a room and I never understood that...

  • Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. ...

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!4.5 StarsHow does one review a book such as this one? No words could possibly truly convey the potential journey a reader is embarking on when they open this novel. This is certain...

  • Diane S ?

    Wow, this wasn't just reading a novel it was a true reading experience. Wholly inventive, imaginative, the amount of research staggering, something totally new and different. Will admit having some tr...

  • Taryn

    I had a complicated relationship with this book. The writing was exquisite and I was amazed at the brilliance of the author, but there were also long sections where I felt completely lost. The tide ru...

  • Sam

    Lincoln in the Bardo is such a beautifully crystallized portrait of life, death, grief, and getting on, and really emphasizes our shared humanity in its unusual storytelling. I started and stopped in ...