Earlier this October, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, was announced the 2017 winner of the leading literary award in the English speaking world, The Man Booker Prize. Established in 2005, the award aims to bring recognition and reward for the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK. The only criteria: being the best novel in the opinion of the judge. This allows the winner to not only receive £50,000 and shortlisted authors to receive £2,500, but also for authors to receive worldwide readership and book sales. To ensure consistency in excellence for choosing quality fiction, the judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, from scholars and writers to politicians and actors – all sharing the same love for fiction and engagement to attract “the intelligent general audience.” The prize has established trust in readers sharing and seeking similar values in fiction. Two of the authors, Mohsin Hamid and Colson Whitehead, were both featured in Loomis Chaffee’s 2017 all-school summer reading with Exit West being shortlisted and The Underground Railroad longlisted in the Man Booker Prize.
The winner, George Sanders, was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Lincoln in the Bardo was described as a work of fiction that “creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters” by Baroness Young, 2017 Chair of judges. The novel added a surreal twist to a factual incident, describing Abraham Lincoln’s visit to his dead 11-year-old son Willie in a Georgetown cemetery. The grieving father was greeted with innumerable souls in the thousands of dead from the Civil War, both by the quick and the dead, pondering and contemplating life and death. Saunders explores not only the reality and pain of loss and death but also life, too-its endless possibilities, meanings and moments.
The Man Booker Prize shortlist, longlist and winner are currently displayed in the Katherine Brush Library. Come enjoy these witty, moving and transcending works of fiction!