Saunders is the author of a number of acclaimed short story collections—most notably CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and The Tenth of December—but Lincoln in the Bardo, which is being published by Random House in the U.S. and Bloomsbury in the U.K., is his first novel. Saunders has kept details relatively secret—only telling Jennifer Egan, in an interview five months ago, that the book was set in the 19th century—but new information has recently come to light.
The title of the novel was revealed earlier this month, in an interview Saunders did with Susan Sarandon. Saunders’s bio revealed that, “His novel Lincoln in the Bardo will be out in 2017.”
A description of the book is now on BookNet Canada and Bloomsbury’s website. These sites indicate that the book will be published on February 14, 2017, in Canada and March 1, 2017, in the U.K. (A source in the U.S. tells me that Random House also has the book slated for Valentine’s Day, though all of these are subject to change.) While Bloomsbury’s website does not contain descriptive copy, Random House describes the book like this:
On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.
The book’s tentative Canadian cover is above.