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Lincoln in the Bardo: (Hardback) £14.99 By George Saunders Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2017

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Waterstones’s exclusive edition of the extraordinary first novel by the Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted author, George Saunders, has a luxury jacket with blue foil and a ribbon and – accompanied by Saunders’ notes – an exclusive scene deleted from the original text.

At the dawn of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln nurses a very private grief. President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain: electric, hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Inventing an exhilarating new form, Saunders confirms his status as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

Arguably the best American short story writer of his generation, George Saunder’s mantelpiece must be groaning under the weight of awards.

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