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Enlightened Lincoln

by Jason Lee Steorts

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel, by George Saunders (Random House, 367 pp., $28)

In February 1862, Willie Lincoln, the eleven-year-old son of Abraham and Mary, died of typhoid. His parents were, by every account, shattered, and in the following days the president reportedly made solitary nighttime visits to the crypt in which his son’s corpse had been interred.

George Saunders, already esteemed for his short stories and essays, takes one such visit as the premise of his first novel, which is among the less likely and more moving works of fiction I have read.

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