Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a book that is undoubtedly tricky in its construction and execution, there is a simplicity at its centre that grounds it. Emotionally there is grief, paralysing parental grief and temporally there is one night. This core frees Saunders to cut loose with all sorts of voices overlapping. Quoted research layers on quoted reference to create chapters of their own, some perspectives reinforced, other's subtly undercut. The dead also get to tell their tales, with varying degrees of reliability.

The layers of the book are rich in history and humanity but humour too. Though the plot is simple, there is progression, and not just for the central characters, but for many others too. It's a testament to their characterisation that we care by the end how each of these characters move on.

A warm and genuine book that may wear it's technical dexterity openly but never wants to be off putting, rather it wants to be, and is, respectful of the reader's intelligence.

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