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Daring debut

George Saunders explores the mind of Abraham Lincoln in his long-awaited first novel

George Saunders explores the mind of Abraham Lincoln in his long-awaited first novel

This segment originally aired Feb. 14, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO. 

George Saunders, one of America’s most beloved short story writers, recently published his first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo.” While previous works of Saunders have been met with sweeping acclaim, his novel may prove to be more divisive, though early buzz is very positive.

The novel tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and the death of his 11-year-old son, William Wallace Lincoln, called “Willie,” at the start of the Civil War. The plot is narrated by a chorus of ghosts observing Lincoln as he visits his son’s grave.

Saunders’ novel has 166 narrators, intended to represent the numerous cross-sections of lives during Civil War-era America. When the audiobook is released, it’s expected to break a Guinness Book World Record due to the unprecedented enormity of the cast.

“I really like the idea that you can have a book about America,” Saunders said, “and have that delivered by people from every walk of life and every job.”

 

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