Lincoln in the Bardo is a 2017 experimental novel by American author George Saunders. It is Saunders’ first full-length novel and was a New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller for the week of March 5, 2017. Saunders is best known for his short stories, reporting and occasional essays.
The novel takes place during and after the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son William “Willie” Wallace Lincoln and confronts the President’s grief. The bulk of the novel, which takes place during a single evening, is set in the bardo – an intermediate space between life and rebirth.
Lincoln in the Bardo received critical acclaim, and won the 2017 Man Booker Award. Time magazine listed it as one of its top ten novels of 2017.
The novel was inspired by a story Saunders’ wife’s cousin told her about how Lincoln visited her son Willie’s crypt at Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery on several occasions to hold the body of his son Willie, A story which seems verified by accounts of contemporary newspapers. 10 In March 2017, Saunders gave more details on the background and conception of her novel:
Many years ago, during a visit to Washington DC, my wife’s cousin showed us a cellar on a hill and mentioned that, in 1862, while Abraham Lincoln was president, his beloved son, Willie, had died, and The crypt was temporarily interred in it, and the harrowing Lincoln entered the crypt “on several occasions” to hold the boy’s body, according to the newspapers of the day. An image springs to my mind spontaneously – a combination of the Lincoln Memorial and Pieta. I kept moving that image for the next 20-odd years, very scared to try something like that, and then finally, in 2012, seeing that I wasn’t getting any younger, that Not wanting to be someone whose own gravestone would be “afraid to embark on a scary artistic project he’s longing to desperate”, decided to take a run on it, in exploratory fashion, no commitment. My novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the result of that effort
Saunders first announced the novel in a 2015 New York Times interview with novelist Jennifer Egan, revealing that it would be a “supernatural element” while remaining “supernatural historical”. The title of the novel was announced in an interview between Saunders and Susan Sarandon in Interview magazine in April 2016. In the same month, a description of the book was posted on the Random House website.
Lincoln in the Bardo Novel by George Saunders
Name Of the Book: Lincoln in the Bardo
Name Of the Writer: #George Saunders
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Number Of Pages: 465
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