Top positive review
Reviewed in India 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.