Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"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 returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins a story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its 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?" -- Publisher's description
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812995343
Branch Call Number: FICTION SAUNDERS 2017
Characteristics: 343 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Portland Arts & Lectures, Oct. 12, 2017

A chorus of voices, some of them belonging to ghosts, tell the story of the death of Abraham Lincoln's young son and of what happened in the graveyard during a couple of nights that the President went to there to grieve in 1862. No one can bring characters as completely and quickly to life as Sau... Read More »

November. This novel tells of Abraham Lincoln's visits to the graveyard after the 1862 death of his eleven-year old son, Willie. Willie is just one of many lively spirits lingering in the graveyard, and a chorus of them tell the story of Willie and his father. And because Saunders is the writer, ... Read More »

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martins_mom Feb 26, 2018

This is one curious and original piece of fiction. I listened to the audiobook version, which is an excellent production, and makes all the many various voices very distinguishable.
And if you haven’t looked up ‘bardo’ yet, it is a term from Tibetan Buddhism meaning “the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth”.

Feb 22, 2018

I'm not a fan of experimental punctuation, but about a third of the way into the book, I got the rhythm of it and I think it works.

Feb 21, 2018

Disjointed, artsy, meaningless. I was listening to this book on CD and gave up after one disk.

Feb 19, 2018

I found this book unreadable. I was so looking forward to it as it is a compelling story idea and he is a great writer but I did not even finish it. And I finish everything!

smc_1 Feb 17, 2018

Loved this complex, but somehow quite simple, imaginative, utterly compelling novel. The writing and voices are transporting - melancholic, moving, masterful.

DBRL_ReginaF Feb 13, 2018

I really don't even know how I feel about this one. It was weird. Really weird. It was incredibly confusing a lot of the times but it was also brilliant some of the time.

Feb 01, 2018

I absolutely loved the format of this book. The method in which Saunders unravels this story is unlike anything I've ever read. This is a true historical fiction in that he blends nonfiction excerpts from historical writings with the dialogue and story line of his fictional characters. Saunders clearly performed an extensive amount of research while writing this book. "Lincoln in the Bardo" is both fascinating and a sentimental tribute to President Lincoln and his son, Willie. Truly an exceptional piece of literature!

Jan 24, 2018

I don't understand why this book is so highly recommended. The writing style was way too choppy, and I had a hard time following the story. I wanted to give up after about a third of the way through, but pressed on. Though the second half was better, I definitely wish I had skipped this books.

Jan 10, 2018

#2 on Entertainment Weekly's Best Books of 2017

Jan 02, 2018

The form of the ¨novel¨ should appeal to the twitter set. But why isn´t there a story?

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