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Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, 14 February 2017

3.9 out of 5 stars 3,339 ratings

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Product description


“A luminous feat of generosity and humanism.”—Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review

“Grief guts us all, but rarely has it been elucidated with such nuance and brilliance as in Saunders’s Civil War phantasmagoria. Heartrending yet somehow hilarious, Saunders’s zinger of an allegory holds a mirror to our perilous current moment.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“An extended national ghost story . . . As anyone who knows Saunders’s work would expect, his first novel is a strikingly original production.”The Washington Post

“Saunders’s beautifully realized portrait of Lincoln . . . attests to the author’s own fruitful transition from the short story to the long-distance form of the novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Profound, funny and vital . . . the work of a great writer.”Chicago Tribune

“Heartbreaking and hilarious . . . For all its divine comedy, Lincoln in the Bardo is also deep and moving.”USA Today

“Along with the wonderfully bizarre, empathy abounds in Lincoln in the Bardo.”—Time

“There are moments that are almost transcendentally beautiful, that will come back to you on the edge of sleep. And it is told in beautifully realized voices, rolling out with precision or with stream-of-consciousness drawl.”—NPR

Lincoln in the Bardo is part historical novel, part carnivalesque phantasmagoria. It may well be the most strange and brilliant book you’ll read this year.”Financial Times

“A masterpiece.”Zadie Smith

“Ingenious . . . Saunders—well on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twain—crafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows.”Vogue

“Saunders is the most humane American writer working today.”—Harper’s Magazine

“The novel beats with a present-day urgency—a nation at war with itself, the unbearable grief of a father who has lost a child, and a howling congregation of ghosts, as divided in death as in life, unwilling to move on.”Vanity Fair

“A brilliant, Buddhist reimagining of an American story of great loss and great love . . . Saunders has written an unsentimental novel of Shakespearean proportions, gorgeously stuffed with tragic characters, bawdy humor, terrifying visions, throat-catching tenderness, and a galloping narrative, all twined around the luminous cord connecting a father and son and backlit by a nation engulfed in fire.”—Elle

“Wildly imaginative.”—Marie Claire

“Mesmerizing . . . Dantesque . . . A haunting American ballad.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Exhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, except that the grotesque humor, pathos, and, ultimately, human kindness at its core mark it as a work that could come only from Saunders.”—The National

About the Author

George Saunders is the author of eight books, including the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Random House (14 February 2017)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0812995341
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0812995343
  • Item Weight : 612 g
  • Dimensions : 16.79 x 3.2 x 24.18 cm
  • Country of Origin : USA
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.9 out of 5 stars 3,339 ratings

Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5
3,339 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 16 February 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended!❤️
By Damini🌸 on 16 February 2018
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. The first few pages of the book are a bit difficult to proceed, but then we get used the writing style and the book goes smoothly. The story is narrated by the ghosts residing in the Bardo and from the quotations from contemporary and historiographic sources. And there are multiple things going on in the book, at the same time!

The story discusses about the relation of father-son, the mental state of Abraham Lincoln, the ill decisions made by the spirits in Bardo during their life, the concept of afterlife, spirits of men and women who were slaves and the story shifts its focus onto the Civil War. The story force you to feel the pain of a man who has lost a son and must guide his country through many more deaths, of a slave girl who is raped over and over again, of a gay man who slits his wrists because he cannot be with the one he loves, and many other things.

The languauge of the book is both simple and complex. Complex at the first instance and simple when we get a hold of it. The unusual format, like oddly punctuated and inverted lines of a play, took some time of adjustment, and then it was easy to read. The book provides different perspectives of different characters- Living and dead, real and imagined, president and slave — they all sit at the same table, sharing a wide range of human experiences.

I don't know, what exactly was compelling about the book- the unual writing style, the different story or my love for historical fictions. But this is one of the best books, I've read so far. Strongly recommended.
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28 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in India on 26 November 2018
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Reviewed in India on 17 March 2019
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Reviewed in India on 8 April 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Saunders Stuns the Novel Genre
By Melwin on 8 April 2018
Review on George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo”

I am indeed pleased to share my review on one of my superlative reads. The plot, set during the American Civil War, revolves on a historical circumstance, the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie Lincoln. And Saunders picks a pinch of history that affirms that the grieve-stricken Lincoln has had a few visits to his son’s tomb to be in the presence of his son. EUREKA! a scintillating new novel is born.

The story is been narrated by a group of spirits or apparitions, who are stuck in a Bardo , a place where people reach who are disfigured by desires they failed to act upon while alive. They are unaware that they have died, referring to the space as their "hospital-yard" and to their coffins as "sick-boxes". Bardo! Yes, our writer brings into light the transitional zone, Tibetans believe it to be a period between the moment one dies and whatever happens after that, a sleep or a trance-state.

W.Y. Evans Wentz in his book “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” elaborates the concept of Bardo, a little further. He talks of three Bardos:

1. CHIKHAI BARDO- Transitional State of the moment of Death.

2. CHONYID BARDO- Transitional state of experiencing or glimpsing of reality.

3. SIDPA BARDO- Transitional state of Rebirth.

So to be back with our novel, Saunders picks these three types and connects a web of artistic narratives in ghosts. Willie dies and reaches Bardo - meets his fellow narrators, almost hundred other characters, and tells them that his dad will come to see and pick him up. A few main ghost narrators, Hans Vollman, Roger Bevins III and the Reverend Everly Thomas feel pity for the young lad and they endure to take on a strange pursuit to persuade Abraham Lincoln to visit his son. They get to the world and get into the body of Lincoln. Astonished, they are able to read the mind of Lincoln. They are able to see their real self. Yet they aren’t able to persuade Lincoln to visit his son. But by some thought Lincoln too aspires to see his son. He gets into the tomb of Willie to see him and hold him one last time. Most of the ghosts co-habitat the body of Lincoln and they begin to have a strange conversation within themselves. Lincoln is been persuaded by the apparitions to stay- but he leaves the tomb. They get awakened to the reality and they move to the next level of Heaven/Hell phenomenon.

The novel entertains with its contradicting dialogues now and then, a broad variety of opinion-factual and fictional. Amazingly new novel style-more of a dramatic monologues kind, bit of real history and created history tossed in here and there. Saunders himself observes that the pages have ‘a lot of white space’ in it. Enjoyable narration, I presume it will take a second reading to really comprehend the intense clearly. A compelling and undoubtedly unique novel, that talks and promotes the beauty of life. It articulates loads of hope to the readers to live their live pleasingly well to one’s own conscience.
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7 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in India on 15 May 2017
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11 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

P. G. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Danse Macabre
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars Almost impossible to read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 October 2018
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Mrs C L Sharpe
4.0 out of 5 stars Great choice for our bookclub
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 September 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars Awful. So disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 August 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 September 2018
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