George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo has won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Cover image of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body. From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. 

Saunders is the second American to win the prestigious prize since it was opened up to North American authors four years ago. Commending his ‘utterly original novel’, the judges called the book

a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative. This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. Lincoln in the Bardo is both rooted in, and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy.

Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders’ first novel, after many years of writing critically acclaimed short stories. The Cockburn Libraries have copies of this and all the other 2017 Booker-shortlisted novels available to borrow by clicking the titles below.

4321 by Paul Auster (US)

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US)

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan)

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Autumn by Ali Smith (UK)