Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders

  • Release Date: 2017-02-14
  • Genre: Literary
Lincoln in the Bardo book review score

4 Score: 4 (From 308 Ratings)

Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders Book Review Score: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars


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

Named 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 Book

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 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

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User reviews about this book

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    By Arcane Mccaen
    Lincoln in the Bardo A terrific, thick read that messes with your head. His take on the afterlife, though a period piece, mixed with historical fiction, I think, is dead on. That people are people, no matter the times, whether living or dead. That getting inside of someone else’s head will be troubling to most of us. Sometimes, it takes a child to point out the obvious to grownups. And to do what you should. And even, to go first. The first half of the book built slowly. The second half ran like an express train, fast and powerfull. Theologically, who knows if any of this is right or not. Regardless, a great read. -Rob Cain
  • Lincoln In The Bardo

    By FamilyCrazy
    Odd, but bizarrely fun.
  • Huh?

    By jus' sayin'
    Some amazing books have been written whilst under the influence. This is not one of them.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo

    By Kbayham
    I would give this book 100 stars if I could. It was so touching and beautiful and such an incredibly original way to humanize Lincoln even more than our history already makes him. I didn’t want it to end. Can’t wait to read more by this author and am praying the next novel will be 1/10 as good as this.
  • Speechless

    By Droceankiddd
    I just finished this book. It is a masterpiece of prose, originality, and construction. I couldn’t possibly do justice with a review, so here’s a quote: “His mind was freshly inclined toward sorrow; toward the fact that the world was full of sorrow; that everyone labored under some burden of sorrow; that all were suffering; that whatever way one took in this world, one must try to remember that all were suffering (none content; all wronged, neglected, overlooked, misunderstood), and therefore one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact; that his current state of sorrow was not uniquely his, not at all, but, rather, its like had been felt, would yet be felt, by scores of others, in all times, in every time, and must not be prolonged or exaggerated, because, in this state of grief, he could be of no help to anyone and, given that his position in the world situated him to be either of great help or great harm, it would not do to stay low, if he could help it.” BUY THIS BOOK.
  • Strange!

    By CasperCool
    I think the five stars might be for me, for finishing the book. I applaud the writing and for getting off the beaten track, I love to discover new ways of writing, and this is all that. But it was difficult and I asked myself many times why I kept reading. I don’t know if I liked it or not.
  • Waste

    By SDWill
    I purchased this book because it had just won the Man Booker prize and incorrectly assumed that it would be worthwhile reading; I now utterly regret that decision. What a waste...
  • A unique journey!

    By Revlis77
    A very interesting perspective of life and death as experienced through those caught in the "Bardo" (the place between life and Death). Historically Intersected with the death of Lincoln's son Willie this fascinating novel runs the gambit of human emotion both in life and in the afterlife.
  • Best seller?

    By Staynavytom
    Weird book. Couldn't follow it at all. Saunders must have had many voices in his head when he wrote this book. I thought it would have been about Lincoln.
  • Ugh

    By PaulaDinNYC
    I'm about 100 pages in. I rarely ever stop reading a book without finishing. This one...not sure it's worth continuing. I agree, completely, with the other reviews.

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