Man Booker Prize 2017 Winner #GeorgeSaunders

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?

8 thoughts on “Man Booker Prize 2017 Winner #GeorgeSaunders

  1. I knew it was going to win. I’d predicted it the moment I saw the shortlist. I haven’t read it and don’t plan on reading it. The hype is really out there concerning this book. Waiting a bit to read it might be the best way to truly enjoy it. I’ve heard it’s made people cry (men included). I’m intrigued but I’m not sure enough to read it. I think for Saunders I’d like to start with Tenth of December since that’s the only book I own by him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m intrigued by the Buddhist reference to the in between ‘bardo’ and the judges reference to the development of empathy. If a novel succeeds in provoking that in readers, it’s coming from an interesting and perhaps open minded place, that kind of literature is always welcome on my bookshelf. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. While I enjoyed this novel, I by no means consider it worthy of winning the Man Booker. My two favorite novels were Solar Bones (loved!!!) and Days Without End (which is so very American). I also thought Autumn was admirable, and highly recommend you read that one as you mentioned you might do. Lincoln was clever, but I ended up not being as impacted emotiinally as I was by the other three, and touching my heart is what I expect an award winning book to do. No wonder I’m not on the jury.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I was kind of hoping he might have touched a tender spot, so thanks for letting me know your thoughts, which I so value! My intuition lead me to Autumn from the shortlist, so I do have that to read, and Solar Bones has had great reviews from readers I respect and admire. I wish there were more like you on the jury, a little more heart and a little less intellect isn’t a bad thing in my literary opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do not join the hype about this book. It was NOT worth the most important UK Literary Prize!
    (See my review) Again I am disappointed with the judges decision….malheureusement.


  4. Hi Claire,
    I read LINCOLN IN THE BARDO before there was a great deal of hype. I did enjoy this book even with its unusual format. Some reader friends enjoyed listening rather then reading.
    I had an issue at one point, the burial of slaves…I found it unnecessarily insulting.
    For this fact alone, I do warn friends before they buy this book. Had I known, I would not have read the book.


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