Lincoln In The Bardo: A Novel by George SaundersLincoln In The Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders

Lincoln In The Bardo: A Novel

byGeorge Saunders

Audio Book (CD) | February 14, 2017

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The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo
 is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

The 166-person full cast features award-winning actors and musicians, as well as a number of Saunders’ family, friends, and members of his publishing team, including, in order of their appearance:
 
Nick Offerman as HANS VOLLMAN
David Sedaris as ROGER BEVINS III
Carrie Brownstein as ISABELLE PERKINS
George Saunders as THE REVEREND EVERLY THOMAS
Miranda July as MRS. ELIZABETH CRAWFORD
Lena Dunham as ELISE TRAYNOR
Ben Stiller as JACK MANDERS
Julianne Moore as JANE ELLIS
Susan Sarandon as MRS. ABIGAIL BLASS
Bradley Whitford as LT. CECIL STONE
Bill Hader as EDDIE BARON
Megan Mullally as BETSY BARON
Rainn Wilson as PERCIVAL “DASH” COLLIER
Jeff Tweedy as CAPTAIN WILLIAM PRINCE
Kat Dennings as MISS TAMARA DOOLITTLE
Jeffrey Tambor as PROFESSOR EDMUND BLOOMER
Mike O’Brien as LAWRENCE T. DECROIX
Keegan-Michael Key as ELSON FARWELL
Don Cheadle as THOMAS HAVENS
and
Patrick Wilson as STANLEY “PERFESSER” LIPPERT
with
Kirby Heyborne as WILLIE LINCOLN,
Mary Karr as MRS. ROSE MILLAND,
and Cassandra Campbell as Your Narrator


Praise for the audiobook

“Lincoln in the Bardo" sets a new standard for cast recordings in its structure, in its performances, and in its boldness. Now, let's see who answers the challenge.” – Chicago Tribune
 
“Like the novel, the audiobook breaks new ground in what can be accomplished through a story. It helps that there’s not a single bad note in the cast of a whopping 166 people. It’s also the rare phenomenon of an audiobook being a completely different experience compared to the novel. Even if you’ve read the novel, the audiobook is worth a listen (and vice versa). The whole project pushes the narrative form forward.” – A.V. Club
 
“The result is an auditory experience unlike any other, where the awareness of individual voices disappears while the carefully calibrated soundscape summons a metaphysical masterpiece. This is a tour de force of audiobook production, and a dazzling realization of Saunders’ unique authorial structure.”—Booklist 
 
“The finished audiobook’s tapestry of voices perfectly mirrors the novel.”—Entertainment Weekly


Praise for George Saunders
 
“No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini

“Few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”—Junot Díaz
 
“George Saunders is a complete original. There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”—Dave Eggers
 
“Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny.”—Zadie Smith
 
“There is no one like him. He is an original—but everyone knows that.”—Lorrie Moore

“George Saunders makes the all-but-impossible look effortless. We’re lucky to have him.”—Jonathan Franzen
 
“An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times.”—Thomas Pynchon

About The Author

George Saunders is the author of eight books, including the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship....
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Details & Specs

Title:Lincoln In The Bardo: A NovelFormat:Audio Book (CD)Dimensions:5.96 × 5.07 × 1.15 inPublished:February 14, 2017Publisher:Penguin Random House Audio Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553397575

ISBN - 13:9780553397574

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Customer Reviews of Lincoln In The Bardo: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Morbid and Chilling In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Saunders said that he was so moved by a story he heard 20 years ago about Abraham Lincoln holding his dead son's body in the crypt that it inspired him to take the short story long and write his first novel. With this excerpt from history, Saunders then explored the concept of the Bardo, which is a Tibetan word meaning "in between" or "transition"--the Eastern concept of purgatory. Saunders appropriated the Bardo for this narrative so that if one had any unresolved issues he/she would have to resolve them to move on. Willie Lincoln (the son) is stuck in the Bardo and there are many voices around him of other people from across the ages who are not aware they are dead, or what's keeping them there. In content, I couldn't help but compare this story to Dostoevsky's 'short' story "Bobok" which is about a man walking through a graveyard and overhearing conversations of the dead. Stylistically it reminded me of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." I will say, that in this novel Saunders is definitely more focused on style and exploring a very detailed moment (death of Willie) and a very specific concept (consciousness in the Bardo). Academics are going to love this book I'm sure. It's very "focused" and has room for a lot of discussion. Also if this is ever performed on stage it would have a very Samuel Beckett feel to it. Personally, I listened to the audiobook on a train ride exactly the length of the audiobook. I would STRONGLY recommend the audiobook because the several actors for the different voices and it really comes alive (Nick Offerman is awesome). All in all, I'm not sure if DURING the experience of listening to it I was intrigued or really into it but after it was done I couldn't stop thinking about it as a whole. I recommend it to anyone who is into different experimental styles of writing, Beckett, T.S. Eliot, and again strongly recommend it in audio format.
Date published: 2017-04-04

Extra Content

Read from the Book

  XXI.   Mouth at the worm’s ear, Father said: We have loved each other well, dear Willie, but now, for reasons we cannot understand, that bond has been broken. But our bond can never be broken. As long as I live, you will always be with me, child. Then let out a sobDear Father crying    That was hard to see    And no matter how I patted & kissed & made to console, it did noYou were a joy, he said. Please know that. Know that you were a joy. To us. Every minute, every season, you were a—you did a good job. A good job of being a pleasure to know.Saying all this to the worm!    How I wished him to say it to me    And to feel his eyes on me    So I thought, all right, by Jim, I will get him to see me And in I went It was no bother at all    Say, it felt all right   Like I somewhat belonged inIn there, held so tight, I was now partly also in Father And could know exactly what he wasCould feel the way his long legs lay     How it is to have a beard      Taste coffee in the mouth and, though not thinking in words exactly, knew that the feel of him in my arms has done me good. It has. Is this wrong? Unholy? No, no, he is mine, he is ours, and therefore I must be, in that sense, a god in this; where he is concerned I may decide what is best. And I believe this has done me good. I remember him. Again. Who he was. I had forgotten some- what already. But here: his exact proportions, his suit smelling of him still, his forelock between my fingers, the heft of him familiar from when he would fall asleep in the parlor and I would carry him up to— It has done me good. I believe it has. It is secret. A bit of secret weakness, that shores me up; in shoring me up, it makes it more likely that I shall do my duty in other matters; it hastens the end of this period of weakness; it harms no one; therefore, it is not wrong, and I shall take away from here this resolve: I may return as often as I like, telling no one, accepting whatever help it may bring me, until it helps me no more.Then Father touched his head to mine.Dear boy, he said, I will come again. That is a promise.willie lincoln

Editorial Reviews

“A luminous feat of generosity and humanism.”—Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review  “An extended national ghost story . . . As anyone who knows Saunders’s work would expect, his first novel is a strikingly original production.”—The Washington Post   “Saunders’s beautifully realized portrait of Lincoln . . . attests to the author’s own fruitful transition from the short story to the long-distance form of the novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times   “Devastatingly moving.”—People   “Profound, funny and vital . . . the work of a great writer.”—Chicago Tribune   “Heartbreaking and hilarious . . . For all its divine comedy, Lincoln in the Bardo is also deep and moving.”—USA Today   “Along with the wonderfully bizarre, empathy abounds in Lincoln in the Bardo.”—Time   “There are moments that are almost transcendentally beautiful, that will come back to you on the edge of sleep. And it is told in beautifully realized voices, rolling out with precision or with stream-of-consciousness drawl.”—NPR   “Lincoln in the Bardo is part historical novel, part carnivalesque phantasmagoria. It may well be the most strange and brilliant book you’ll read this year.”—Financial Times “A masterpiece.”—Zadie Smith   “Ingenious . . . Saunders—well on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twain—crafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows.”—Vogue   “Saunders is the most humane American writer working today.”—Harper’s Magazine   “The novel beats with a present-day urgency—a nation at war with itself, the unbearable grief of a father who has lost a child, and a howling congregation of ghosts, as divided in death as in life, unwilling to move on.”—Vanity Fair   “A brilliant, Buddhist reimagining of an American story of great loss and great love . . . Saunders has written an unsentimental novel of Shakespearean proportions, gorgeously stuffed with tragic characters, bawdy humor, terrifying visions, throat-catching tenderness, and a galloping narrative, all twined around the luminous cord connecting a father and son and backlit by a nation engulfed in fire.”—Elle   “Wildly imaginative.”—Marie Claire   “Mesmerizing . . . Dantesque . . . A haunting American ballad.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)   “Exhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)   “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, except that the grotesque humor, pathos, and, ultimately, human kindness at its core mark it as a work that could come only from Saunders.”—The National