Stop by your favorite local bookstore on the way home: George Saunders has been awarded this year’s Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo. Saunders is the second American in a row to win the prize, which was opened to writers outside the British Commonwealth in 2014. “The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative,” Baroness Lola Young, chair of the 2017 judging panel, wrote in the announcement. The book follows Abraham Lincoln just after the death of his 11-year-old son Willie, as Willie is trapped in the Bardo, a kind of transitional state between lives. “I never had any idea that I would write another book in a historical voice — that doesn’t interest me,” Saunders told Vulture earlier this year. “But I have a visceral feeling that I’ve learned a lot about form, and the juxtaposition of different voices. I got a little more confident in my ability to reside in an emotional moment without panicking.” Lincoln in the Bardo was up against five other books on the shortlist: 4321 by Paul Auster, History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Elmet by Fiona Mozley, and Autumn by Ali Smith.
George Saunders. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images