Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begu...

Details Lincoln in the Bardo

TitleLincoln in the Bardo
Release DateFeb 14th, 2017
PublisherRandom House
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Audiobook, Fantasy

Reviews Lincoln in the Bardo

  • Liz
    I should have known. I really don't do well with the avant garde. I want a plot, I want a story. I want character development. This offers none of the above. I felt lost. Vague memories of Ionesco and Beckett kept cropping up as I tried to plough through this. The book alternates between reading like a thesis, full of quotes from “other” sources and then almost more like a play. Ghosts come and ghosts go. They each have their own little mini-...
  • Angela M
    It's a beautiful and sad but a strangely told story, and the narrative is different from anything I've read . The back of the cover description tells a poignant detail about Lincoln which Saunders in the Q&A tells us was the thought that formed for him the heart of this story. At the time of his 11 year old son Willie's death by typhoid fever, it was reported that Lincoln went to the crypt at night to hold his son's body. The grief that one can a...
  • Jeffrey Keeten
    ”The rich notes of the Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick-room in soft, subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far off spirits.” Keckley, op. cit. William Wallace Lincoln is sick. He is burning up with fever. His head is pounding to the beat of a song with a faster tempo than what he hears seeping through the floorboards from below. He...can’t...breathe. It feels like a fat man is squatting on his chest. His fath...
  • Lisa
    Yes, I know I stand alone in my dislike for this book. EVERYONE loves it. Nope, not me. I actually hated it. I've heard people say they wanted to throw a book across a room and I never understood that desire to harm a book, but for me, this is one to throw. I should know better than to read a book in which the review says something like "an alternative writing" "a different way of telling a story". That just means it's weird, no plot, no characte...
  • Elyse Walters
    From the first day I saw that George Sanders had a new release--I kept walking. I had a lot of resistance to read George Sanders again. "The Tenth of December" was the number 1 best seller for months and months.....Everyone seemed to 'LOVE' it. OUTSTANDING they all said. NOT FOR ME....I didn't understand the hype. It was 'alright'.....but not 'wow' for me by any means. I remember thinking another 'lesser name' --- at the time --RISING today--was ...
  • Emily May
    What a painfully boring book. 166 narrators chiming in and overlapping in a story that seems so random and disconnected for the most part. It might be deep, and it might be clever, but if there isn't the barest spark of something to make you care what's on the next page - then why even bother turning it? I gave up at 35%. Life is way too short.
  • Cheri
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!4.5 StarsHow does one review a book such as this one? No words could possibly truly convey the potential journey a reader is embarking on when they open this novel. This is certainly nothing like any other book I’ve read, in concept or in style. Before I requested this, I looked up several references to the definition of the bardo, both the Tibetan definition and how it’s meaning carries beyond the definition. Bardo is the ...
  • Taryn
    I had a complicated relationship with this book. The writing was exquisite and I was amazed at the brilliance of the author, but there were also long sections where I felt completely lost. The tide runs out but never runs in. The stones roll downhill but do not roll back up. What I'm about to write doesn't even begin to sum this book up! President Abraham Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son Willie passes away after an illness. However, Willie d...
  • Hannah Greendale
    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.
  • Diane S ☔
    Wow, this wasn't just reading a novel it was a true reading experience. Wholly inventive, imaginative, the amount of research staggering, something totally new and different. Will admit having some trouble in the beginning, couldn't see where the author was going with this, wondering if it was gong to progress, it did in a very interesting way. Not going to rehash the plot, the description only loosely defines this. The book is helped along by so...
  • Jen
    Sorry Saunders, but I disliked your novel. Clearly, I'm swimming against the current on this one. Having read some convincing reviews, I thought it must be included in my TBR this year. Well, I almost tossed it aside 100 pages in and probably should have and not given it a rating. This is a read of loss. A parent - president Lincoln - has lost his 11 year old son to an illness. The bardo - is the place between heaven and hell - a purgatory of sor...
  • Kevin Ansbro
    "My son, here may indeed be torment, but not death." —Dante (Purgatorio)There really, really must be something wrong with me.Many of my esteemed Goodreads friends, whose rave reviews I put a lot of faith in, are smitten with George Saunders' book. It's even won the blimmin' Booker Prize for crying out loud! Um, where to begin? *he says, wringing his hands in the manner of a doctor delivering bad news*I tried my hardest to like it, I really did ...
  • Sam
    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. I started and stopped in fits, but one massive read in a single sitting was the way for me to go on this, allowing it to crash and wash over me completely, and get acquainted with the style and be fully receptive to the ideas expressed here. Once submerged in the unique form...
  • LeAnne
    "And if you go.. chasing rabbits,and you know you're.. going to fallTell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillarhas given you the call."The unusual format, like oddly punctuated and inverted lines of a play, was fine by me. It just took some adjustment, and then it was easy to read.But the random, psychedelic-seeming thought trains were way too artsy for me, and the periodic sophomoric vulgarity struck me as stupid (sorry). I did not titter for an insta...
  • Diane Barnes
    ADDITION TO REVIEW AFTER LISTENING TO AUDIOThis is the most unusual, incredible reading experience I have ever had. George Saunders is either a genius, or an other-worldly creature living among us and posing as an author.I will leave the book description to Goodreads and the book jacket. I will only say this: if you enter this world and let yourself be carried along, you will emerge a different reader at the end. Some of you may not be able to do...
  • Robin
    **Man Booker Prize Winner!** The way a moistness in the eye will blur a field of stars; the sore place on the shoulder a resting toboggan makes; writing one's beloved's name upon a frosted window with a gloved finger.Tying a shoe; tying a knot on a package; a mouth on yours; a hand on yours; the ending of the day; the beginning of the day; the feeling that there will always be a day ahead.Goodbye, I must now say goodbye to all of it. George Saund...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Imagine the historical research approach of someone like David McCullough, and pull those details into a novel that takes place almost entirely in a graveyard, ghosts and all (picture The Graveyard Book), and you have this novel. I was lucky to receive a review copy of the audiobook from the publisher, because I think this is the preferred format for the novel. Since George Saunders wrote the novel in 108 sections, with distinct voices, they deci...
  • Jaline
    This is an intriguing book; one that is very inventive and yet its basic premise is based on strong possibilities, if not probabilities. There are brief historical excerpts throughout from various sources that are amazing in that they outline stronger than ever that “eye witness” testimony is pretty much wasted without a camera to back it up. For example, on a historically memorable night 5 or 10 people can look at the same night sky and see ...
  • Darwin8u
    "He came out of nothingness, took form, was loved, was always bound to return to nothingness."- George Saunders, Lincoln in the BardoAgain, I find myself wandering at night alone, reading grief literature. I'm not sure if I have just accidentally stumbled on my own special vein of grief literature or if this dark path has suddenly become more popular ("to hell with erotic fiction, let us read tales of the sad survivors"). But, here I am, writing ...
  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    It is becoming increasingly hard to create original literature these days. The fundamental problem with modern art is that everything has been done before. Writers, painters and musicians have to concoct something extraordinarily different to be new.And George Saunders has done exactly that. There has never been a book quite like this before and that’s why it won the Man Booker Prize 2017. The judges for the last few years have been weighing li...
  • Steve
    You know those half-awake, half-asleep dreams where you’re working through your problems of the day? The first wakeful moments in the shower usually let you know that any solutions you thought might apply were pure nonsense. Even more often you realize the things you were thinking about weren’t really problems anyway – it was all just anxiety for the hell of it. Anyway, last night I went to bed thinking about what I might say about this cel...
  • Paromjit
    In this award winning piece of historical fiction, a blend of fact and fiction, Saunders writes of 1862, the American Civil War has been raging for less than year, now intensifying to unbearable proportions with the rising tide of the dead. Amidst this background, Lincoln is facing his very own personally traumatic and testing times. After having already lost a son earlier, his gravely ill 11 year old son, Willie, dies and is laid to rest in Geor...
  • Amalia Gavea
    ‘’My mother, I said. My father. They will come shortly. To collect me’’ Death is a cruel, cynical visitor. Sometimes invited, others unexpected, many more anticipated. Death is blind to age, race, religion, kindness or evilness. He does not discriminate, he takes everyone. He is the one certain thing in the life of every living creature. An unavoidable, unquestionable snatcher. However, don’t we all desire to know what happens next? Per...
  • Trish
    The form of this novel is what readers will notice first. It begins as a series of quotes from reporters’ notebooks, eyewitness accounts, historians using original sources, and we must assume, Civil War-era gossip rags, describing an 1862 White House party which a thousand or more people attended. To say the affair was elaborate understates the case. Apparently when a thousand hungry guests descended on the tables of food, the quantity was such...
  • Lyn
    A reader of George Saunders’ 2017 novel Lincoln in the Bardo will make immediate comparisons to Thornton Wilder’s 1938 drama Our Town and Edgar Lee Master’s 1915 book Spoon River Anthology as well as observing references to Dante’s Inferno and the Bible.Saunders, known for such unique and original works as Tenth of December and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, has again stretched the limits of creative writing and has here produced a work of ...
  • Perry
    Like a cosmic chorus in 'cordial unison' under brocades of blue and a rain of red glareGeorge Saunders' brilliant literary achievement is the ideal book for the Fourth of July in profoundly reminding us of our union as citizens of the United States of America, this great nation created by our forefathers' Declaration of Independence from the "absolute Despotism," "long train of abuses and usurpations" and "invasions on the rights of the people" b...
  • William2
    I avoid the G word. That’s a determination I like to put off until rereading. But this novel’s certainly masterful. I have read nothing so near perfect in some years. The narrative rides a kind of knife edge, between unbearable sorrow one moment and comic relief the next. ‘Almost unbearably moving’ was what Anthony Burgess used to say about some of the better books he reviewed. I must say the same with regard to Lincoln in the Bardo—it...
  • Jill
    One of my great passions in life is reading – and reviewing – books. But how to review this book? It renders me speechless and. I almost feel compelled to reduce my review to two words: “Read it.”Years ago, I learned, while visiting the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, that Abraham Lincoln was so prostrated by grief after the death of his favorite son Willie that he visited the crypt for months afterwards, opening the coffin and s...
  • Matthew Quann
    Update: Booker Prize Winner 2017, a well deserved win for this excellent novel!I came upon Lincoln in the Bardo as someone comes upon a house on fire—tentatively. Placing a hand to the embossed dust jacket and turning deckle-edged pages at random filled me with the sphincter-tightening dread, which I have previously equated to looking down at the earth from a significant height. It seemed as if the book were more screenplay than proper novel, a...
  • Phrynne
    This was one of the most unusual books I have ever read! I think it is what you would have to describe as a reading experience since it is told in multiple voices aided by constant footnotes attributing the text to its sources. So clever! And so much research. The author must have become a real expert on Abraham Lincoln by the time he finished writing.Amazingly the whole fascinating book takes place over one night immediately after Lincoln's youn...