by George Saunders
This book is so celebrated, we hesitated to put it in the list – really, how much good press can one book get? But, it’s fabulous! It’s also perhaps one of those books that seems least likely to be funny: an historical novel about Abe Lincoln spending time in Bardo (the Tibetan word for “in-between lives,” a kind of purgatory) one night when he visits his son’s body in the crypt. The ghosts/beings there are quarrelsome and insanely funny as they help Lincoln’s son, Willie, transition to whatever is coming next for him. Yes, it’s a book about grief, dying, re-writing history, and truth versus fiction, but it’s somehow funny. Saunders is a master!