Book Reviews: Lincoln in the Bardo

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Home > Articles > Book Reviews: Lincoln in the Bardo

 Book Reviews: Lincoln in the Bardo

Today's Manager
March 1, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders

Bloomsbury Publishing
Reviewer: Sadie-Jane Nunis

2017 Man Booker Prize Title is One Weird Trip

2017’s Man Booker Prize winner is a book which you either end up loving or hating it. I however am in two minds about it. I juggled reading this on two platforms so as to maximise my time—both the physical copy and audiobook version.

The book is essentially about President Abraham Lincoln who loses his beloved son Willie to typhoid fever whilst he and his wife had to host an important reception, in fact, an exceptionally important one since it was during the American Civil War period.

Why would I think this book was going to be a strange ride? It is not so much the story per sé but the style in which it was written. Check the book out to understand where many readers and myself are coming from. The book has numerous characters, making me wonder if he was trying to compete with George R. R. Martin’s The Game of Thrones series. There are even ghosts. It was all very confusing initially as my mind was boggled as to who these characters are, who are they speaking to, and honestly, the whole first half was just a very painful experience. However, since I promised myself that I would not chuck a book, I grudgingly continued and ended up listening more to the audiobook rather than reading the physical copy.

There were even chapters in the book that were excerpts of actual news stories and research he had done about the period when the story took place. My mind was reeling as I kept reading and mind you, this was not even halfway through the book, more like about 100 pages in or less?

However, thank goodness for me, this highly complex book started to get more interesting or maybe I succumbed to the style of writing and stopped overanalysing why he chose this method of writing. The story gets better in the second half. Overall, one cannot deny that this is a rather unique style of writing but it is not for everyone’s palette. If like me, you are going to be persistent and read, it does get slightly better. A very unique, brave piece of writing albeit, not my favourite style.


Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 1, 2018

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