George Saunders

George Saunders' novel 'Lincoln in the Bardo' is remarkable

George Saunders' novel 'Lincoln in the Bardo' is remarkable

George Saunders’ first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” is remarkable; let’s get that out of the way first. Unfolding over one night in a graveyard not far from the White House, it tells a story that is, by turns, simple and complicated, tracing both a father’s grief and its effect on the Republic he serves. The Lincoln of the title is, of course, our 16th president, and his sorrow is for his favorite son, Willie, who died of typhus at age 11 in February 1862.

Lord, what is this?” Saunders imagines Lincoln keening. “All of this walking about, trying, smiling, bowing, joking? This sitting-down-at-table, pressing-of-shirts, tying-of-ties, shining-of-shoes,...

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