Yesterday the winner of the Man Booker 2017 was announced, and the prize went to:
Of the shortlisted titles, I’d only read one Exit West and I keep promising to finally read a book by Ali Smith,but that hasn’t happened yet. I was a little intrigued by Lincoln in the Bardo, but put off by the hype and an air of assuredness in the media of it winning; it was the British bookies favourite and although it is his first full length novel, he is an accomplished, bestselling author in the US.
Having listened to Baroness Young speak about how they came to their decision in this video, I am back in ‘intrigue’ mode and thinking, I really would like to know this one from the inside. It’s worth listening to the video, as she also mentions the obstacles some readers might encounter, an admirable admission, as not all award winning literary fiction is as accessible to the reader as one might imagine.
Comments below are extracted from the Man Booker website:
Lola, Baroness Young, 2017 Chair of judges, comments:
‘The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals 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 focuses on a single night in the life of Abraham Lincoln: an actual moment in 1862 when the body of his 11-year-old son was laid to rest in a Washington cemetery.
Strangely and brilliantly, Saunders activates this graveyard with the spirits of its dead. The Independent described the novel as ‘completely beguiling’, praising Saunders for concocting a ‘narrative like no other: a magical, mystery tour of the bardo – the “intermediate” or transitional state between one’s death and one’s next birth, according to Tibetan Buddhism.’
Meanwhile, the Guardian wrote that, ‘the short story master’s first novel is a tale of great formal daring…[it] stands head and shoulders above most contemporary fiction, showing a writer who is expanding his universe outwards, and who clearly has many more pleasures to offer his readers.’
Saunders told TIME magazine that he didn’t really want to write about Lincoln,
‘but was so captivated by this story I’d heard years ago about him entering his son’s crypt. I thought of the book as a way of trying to instil the same reaction I’d had all those years ago.’
So have you read this novel, or if not, are you tempted by it? Did you have another favourite to win?