Tenth of December author George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo won the Man Booker Prize in 2017. It focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the death of his 11-year-old son Willie at the dawn of the Civil War.
Newspapers reported that Lincoln often returned to the crypt to hold his boy's body and from this historical template, Saunders has cultivated a story about familial love and loss that takes a supernatural twist: Willie Lincoln is trapped in a transitional realm (known in Tibetan tradition as the bardo) while all sorts of beasts try to take his soul...
With voices ranging from the living to the dead and the historical to fictional, this humorous novel is completely exhilarating and asks how we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear will end?
This is a groundbreaking novel and the very different style may put off some readers but I found it an amusing, sad and exhilarating read all at the same time. We are treated to snippets of conversation from the spirits in the graveyard and their fascinating previous lives, an episodic and gossipy approach which forces the reader to change perspective all the time, combined with the very moving account of Lincoln's family and his son's death, which he cannot accept at first but eventually comes to terms with and allows his child to escape from his tomb. It was my stand-out reading experience of recent months and provides an interesting perspective on bereavement, death, ghosts and simply life, whilst set in a well-researched historical context which adds yet another dimension. Recommended.
So disappointed -
I was looking forward to reading this book and was delighted when I saw it for a great price as well. After about 30 pages I gave up and just 'skim read' the rest in case it improved. I was so disappointed.
Yes it was different, yes, it was original, but so choppy to read that it gave me a headache. It had had such great reviews I really was expecting a great read.
How this won the Booker Prize, I've no idea. Not a patch on other winners like the magnificent Wolf Hall.