Lincoln in the Bardo
Bloomsbury $29.99 pb, 368 pp, 9781408871751
From the outside, America seems defined by its brutal polarities – political, racial, moral, economic, geographic. The Disunited States of America. From the inside, the picture is more complex; American life is not lived at these extremes, but in the murky, transitional spaces between them. George Saunders’s much-anticipated novel Lincoln in the Bardo is set in another murky, transitional space – between life and death – a space that proves a powerful allegory for the desires and sorrows of a nation conceived in liberty, but forged in blood.