Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel

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Lincoln in the Bardo: A NovelLincoln in the Bardo: A Novel

February 1862. The Civil War is short of what one year old. The battling has started vigorously, and the country has started to acknowledge it is in for a long, wicked battle. In the interim, President Lincoln’s dearest eleven-year-old child, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely sick. In a matter of days, in spite of expectations of a recuperation, Willie bites the dust and is let go in a Georgetown graveyard. “My poor kid, he was too useful for this world,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a sadness stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the tomb a few circumstances to hold his kid’s body.

From that seed of chronicled truth, George Saunders turns a life-changing story of familial love and misfortune that breaks free of its sensible, verifiable system into an otherworldly domain both humorous and frightening. Willie Lincoln winds up in an unusual limbo where phantoms blend, complain, sympathize, squabble, and sanction odd demonstrations of atonement. Inside this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan convention, the bardo—a momentous battle emits over youthful Willie’s spirit.

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