Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

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I stayed away from Lincoln in the Bardo for a long time, even after several recommendations from readers I respect. I did read the first few chapters (a couple of times) and was bothered by the way the book was setup. Why all these quotes? And conflicting quotes? What is happening?

Then I heard it was long-listed for the Man Booker prize, and gave it another go.

And I love it!

Lincoln’s son, Willie, has died and Lincoln comes to his son’s tomb for a last visit in the middle of the night. What Lincoln cannot see is the full and vibrant “afterlife” that is happening around him – the men and women who are stuck in a sort of purgatory (the Bardo) where thoughts can change everything and the spirits don’t know they are dead.

This book is a touching portrait of Lincoln, the mood of the United States in the Civil War’s early years, and the moments we most regret when we leave the living.

Be prepared for a difficult slog at the beginning but you quickly get used to it. Hang tough, because in the end, the ride is completely worth it.

Rating: 92/100

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