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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other, for no one but Saunders could conceive it.

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 11-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 returned to the crypt several times alone 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 thrilling 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.

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 vJulianne 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.

©2017 George Saunders (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perfection, what more need I say except thank you

What more need I say, except thank you to the author and voices. I think I will listen again straight away.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book but took study guide to understand at first.

This was a really great book however it took a study guide to understand the first few chapters as it isn’t very clear who is talking. Once you understand and know the voice for the character then it makes for a lot better listening. This is the first fiction book I’ve listened to on Audible as I normally listen to non-fiction but was very impressed and highly recommend this book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

do not listen to audio without book

in your hands story not designed for stand alone audio enjoyment need three more words

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Berkeley Vale, Australia
  • 08-27-17

Not for the faint hearted

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

it was challenging but also funny, moving and informative

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

there was so many of them, but the performances were all great

Any additional comments?

If you don't want to be challenged by innovation in story telling this book is not for you

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Mrs Karen Southwell
  • 01-21-18

Don’t buy on audible

This book does not work as an audio book. This is because there are chapters of extracts of newspapers and something called op.sit. that just serves to make the whole thing fragmented and very difficult to follow. I’m sure it makes sense in the written word though.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • bookylady
  • 10-01-17

Confusing, disappointing, over-hyped

This has to be one of the most over-hyped books I have ever read or listened to. It has had rave reviews and has been shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for fiction but I have to say that I really don't understand why.

It is rambling, confusing, depressing, lacks cohesion and, for a prose work, it is full of quotes and end notes from works of non-fiction. To me, this just made the whole thing a complete mess and very difficult to concentrate upon. Additionally, the huge number of characters (and therefore voices) used in the performance made this narrative really difficult to keep track of. I lost interest after the first half and gave up on it.

Perhaps it would be better to read a hard copy, to help make sense of it all. But if you decide to do that, allow plenty of time. This is a tale that you really need to concentrate hard on and it is certainly not an uplifting story.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • 07-13-17

Mistake

I liked the first part of the first chapter. After that I found the constant references totally stopped any kind of flow. This is not my kind of book and I returned it having failed to be pulled in.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • serginhowardinho
  • 08-08-17

Incomprehensible Garbage

What disappointed you about Lincoln in the Bardo?

Everything.

What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

Like an am-dram production by moderately talented students with no director to marshall them: the numerous voices, footnotes and diversions serve only to produce a story which is utterly incomprehensible and completely incoherent. This is the worst audio book I've ever heard.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • no
  • 07-27-17

Complete gibberish as far as I can tell

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

No idea

What will your next listen be?

Julian Barnes

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

Some of the narration is great - but I have no idea what they were narrating

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Mystification. I started it again twice thinking I might not have been concentrating whilst I was gardening or driving - but once they got past Willie's death it just gets sillier and sillier

Any additional comments?

I listen to and read a lot of "literary" fiction - but this is just a waste of time or too experimental for my brain

40 of 45 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • 04-02-17

Emperors new clothes

I think this may be a book everybody raves about because somebody clever wrote it and the critics say it's great. It's not great. It's boring and pseudo-intellectual. Like a spoof of a really clever book. Maybe you have to be American to get it. Can I have my money back please? I feel like I was conned by all the rave reviews.

37 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kirsty
  • 01-11-18

Not for me

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'm not sure why this has received rave reviews - I can only imagine it works better in printed format than audio book. I'm sure its all very clever but it just didn't work for me.

What was most disappointing about George Saunders’s story?

I listen to audio books whilst driving and I found this to be tedious and irritating in equal measures, to the point where I had to pull over to switch off.

Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

There were so many narrators, many sounding similar and so very many characters . I could not tell you what was going on or who anyone was. Perhaps an American audience would appreciate the characters more, if they are more well known there.

Any additional comments?

I had to give up on it all together around half way through.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • rena
  • 10-16-17

I really don't get the point of this book

I found this book disjointed and pointless. I forced myself to finish it, not sure why as it felt like torture.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Suswati
  • 04-03-17

Epic contemporary Shakespearean tragedy

George Saunder's epic historical and existential tragedy seems to resonate on many levels with a variety of readers. Taking the real life account of the death of Abraham Lincoln's son, exploring his grief and creating a magical realistic theatrical piece is a true wonder.

It's a listening experience for all the senses, with the beautiful music and sounds of the Civil War, as well as a host of well known voices - it's haunting in many aspects. The language is rich and variable mixing Shakespearean dialogue with modern slang.

Where it falls short are the constant breaks in the novel through footnotes describing the actual factual account of that time. It is jarring and ruins the experience - it should be left to the end and is only valid when reading. In this case Saunders sounds timid, having to constantly back up his claims. It would have been five stars, but it happened too often.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bronnage
  • 11-24-17

What an extraordinary ride

A strange, beautiful, funny, moving gem of a novel. It is not a linear narrative but a watercolour painting of voices, snatches of fragmented lives and deaths and a truly original contemplation of what we have that might be eternal. This is not an easy listen or read and might not be for everyone, but I loved it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Finding it in the end
  • 05-27-17

Does not translate

This book does not translate to audio. Cast - brilliant, premise - beautiful but too disjointed for the listener to enjoy and follow. Better read than listened to.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel
  • 07-06-17

ripe off

may be a good book to read but not listen too, so confusing and repeating itself constantly.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lara
  • 05-14-17

One of my favourites!

I thought that this book was weird & wonderful, hilarious & heart wrenching. I loved the performances, and the perspective. It took me a while to get into the narrative because of the many quotations, but I really came to enjoy the extra depth that they added to the story. I cannot keep the excitement from my voice when talking about this novel!! I would recommend it to anybody who has an open mind, and can find delight in the thought of a giant swinging member, that's nearly as big as a leg.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • gina
  • 11-04-17

Difficult

I couldn't finish this book. Was so hard to understand - maybe it is better to read this type of literature but I certainly didn't enjoy listening to it. Very hard to follow and understand what was going on.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Gerard
  • 10-24-17

Lack of Flow

The endless attributions of quotations are something you would skim over in reading but just spoil it for the audio sadly, Do we really need to know for the tenth time that something was quoted in the Watchman's Logbook, 1817-1868?.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Penny wynne
  • 06-04-18

Op cit

A torrent of quotations, too clever by half. Sighs.

I’d rather read Leech. Op Cit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-15-17

Fascinating and beautifully told

A wonderful story told in the most interesting way. Needed to concentrate whilst listening, but so worth it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Megan
  • 07-30-17

Best audiobook I've ever listened to

I don't normally write reviews but this book warrants one. I couldn't recommend this book enough; it was unique, quirky, funny, sad and deeply moving. Saunders is a talented writer who draws you into his world. I particularly enjoyed the intriguing use of multiple narrators to bring attention to the subjective nature of reality. The performances are outstanding, with an incredible cast. It felt more like a play than an audiobook. Just amazing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marita
  • 05-31-18

Exceptional

I was recommended this book by someone I trust, but she warned me that everyone else in her book club found it hard going. I thought it was exceptionally well written, original, engaging and confronting. The performance was without exception outstanding. This is American literature at its best, and the same goes for the performance. A must read if you're thinking about going to the 'other side'.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • trudy
  • 03-30-18

A stunning and original book.

What made the experience of listening to Lincoln in the Bardo the most enjoyable?

A brilliant juxtaposition of real and imagined. It takes a little while to get used to the style and how the quotes work with the narrative but once you understand the style it's fascinating. With the use of these quotes, the characters are brought to life in a unique way. We see them from different perspectives and so are able to make our own assessment.
At the heart of the book is a very tender relationship between father and son that brought tears to my eyes. The grief Lincon feels for the loss of his child is so beautifully realised. The characters in the graveyard all have their own unique stories, some are heartbreaking, others are funny and some are both.
The audio version was fantastic, all the characters were brought to life with great clarity, pathos and humour. In fact, it was so good it makes me want to go back and read the paperback version!
I can not recommend this book enough it is a truly unique read. I guarantee if you persist the images and characters will remain with you for years to come.