Lincoln in the Bardo

I didn’t know what a bardo was until I picked up George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo. Bardo is the state of the soul between death and rebirth. The translation of this Tibetan word is “between two.” And that’s exactly the condition of the souls in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in 1862 when Willie Lincoln, third son of Abraham Lincoln, was interred. The death of Willie Lincoln and the night-time visits of Abraham Lincoln set off a series of events that will change the ghostly residents of Oak Ridge.

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