Download Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Audiobook

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Audiobook, by George Saunders Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: George Saunders Narrator: George Saunders, David Sedaris, Nick Offerman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2017 ISBN: 9780553397581
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The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo
is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

The 166-person full cast features award-winning actors and musicians, as well as a number of Saunders’ family, friends, and members of his publishing team, including, in order of their appearance:

Nick Offerman as HANS VOLLMAN
David Sedaris as ROGER BEVINS III
Carrie Brownstein as ISABELLE PERKINS
Lena Dunham as ELISE TRAYNOR
Ben Stiller as JACK MANDERS
Julianne Moore as JANE ELLIS
Susan Sarandon as MRS. ABIGAIL BLASS
Bradley Whitford as LT. CECIL STONE
Bill Hader as EDDIE BARON
Megan Mullally as BETSY BARON
Keegan-Michael Key as ELSON FARWELL
Don Cheadle as THOMAS HAVENS
Kirby Heyborne as WILLIE LINCOLN,

and Cassandra Campbell as Your Narrator

Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Feels more like a movie than an audiobook.” (audio review)

  • “The finished audiobook’s tapestry of voices perfectly mirrors the novel.”

    Entertainment Weekly (audio review)

  • “Sets a new standard for cast recordings in its structure, in its performances, and in its boldness.”

    Chicago Tribune (audio review)

  • “The audio presentation brings a chorus of voices to raucous, guilty, fearful, and complicated life.”

    Library Journal (starred audio review)

  • “An auditory experience unlike any other, where the awareness of individual voices disappears while the carefully calibrated soundscape summons a metaphysical masterpiece. This is a tour de force of audiobook production.”

    Booklist (audio review)

  • “Like the novel, the audiobook breaks new ground in what can be accomplished through a story. It helps that there’s not a single bad note in the cast of a whopping 166 people.”

    A. V. Club (audio review)

  • “The prospect of reading Saunders’ Booker prize-winning novel may seem daunting, so investing in this seven-hour audio version, read by a starry 166-person cast, is a great alternative—and perfectly suits Saunders’ inventive take on the novel.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “There’s an undeniable appeal in hearing this impressive cast of narrators…Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Devastatingly moving. People
  • Heartbreaking and hilarious . . . For all its divine comedy, Lincoln in the Bardo is also deep and moving. USA Today
  • Profound, funny and vital . . . the work of a great writer. Chicago Tribune
  • Lincoln in the Bardo is part historical novel, part carnivalesque phantasmagoria. It may well be the most strange and brilliant book you’ll read this year. Financial Times
  • Ingenious . . . Saunders—well on his way toward becoming a twenty-first-century Twain—crafts an American patchwork of love and loss, giving shape to our foundational sorrows. Vogue
  • There are moments that are almost transcendentally beautiful, that will come back to you on the edge of sleep. And it is told in beautifully realized voices, rolling out with precision or with stream-of-consciousness drawl. NPR
  • Exhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • Mesmerizing . . . Dantesque . . . A haunting American ballad. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • A BookPage Top Pick for March 2017
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month
  • Washington Post Top 10 Book of Books That We Loved
  • Winner of the Man Booker Prize
  • Audio bestseller
  • Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
  • A Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2017
  • A Library Journal Best Audiobook of 2017
  • A 2018 Audie Award Finalist for Best Multi-Voiced Performance
  • An RUSA Notable Book for Outstanding Audiobook Narration
  • A BookRiot Pick of the 4 Most Perfect Audiobooks Ever
  • A 2018 Audie Audiobook of the Year Finalist
  • Finalist for the 2018 Indies Choice Book Award for Best Audiobook
  • A London Guardian Pick of Best Audiobooks

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 7/13/2018

    " Brilliant. I loved it. There is not much more I can say. Saunders had a brilliant imagination. What a talent "

  • 4.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 5 Keith | 2/8/2018

    " I probably should have read a review or two on this book before deciding to give it a listen but being a Civil War buff I figured I’d give it a try. If I had just looked up the definition for Bardo I might have had an inkling of what was to come but I didn’t do that either. Bardo is a Buddhist word referring to a place inhabited by (dare I say) souls between their existences on earth. This book is written as a screen play rather than a novel. To me, it seems a cross between something written by Lewis Carroll and Greek Mythology with furies bringing their terrors to hapless residents of this grim Purgatory. The story centers on Willie Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln. Willie dies at a very young age and finds himself in the bardo with little understanding of what has happened to him. His father, racked with anguish, visits him in the cemetery and holds his cold, diminished body in his arms. Neither son nor father know what to make of their new circumstances. Most of the spirits living in the bardo are also ignorant of their true circumstances. Most of them refusing to believe they are actually dead. The book is powerfully written. The listener hears the thoughts of the various characters and soon realizes each has his own story to tell. A story of great pain or hurt or bewilderment. The story of a former minister who runs from his fate after a debilitating experience at, what I will call, the Pearly Gates is particularly wrenching. Although most of the story is tragic, the author injects some light moments to keep it all under control. A wonderful read/listen. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 jmon | 12/8/2017

    " While the concept and story is creative, entertaining and poignant, I find the narrative near impossible to get drawn into. The reason: constant interruption of footnote references. If I ever regain interest in trying to pick up the story, I’ll try reading the book. That said, the cast of narrators is excellent and the book is a daring and genius telling of a lovely relationship between father and son. If the audio version could omit the spoken footnotes, it would earn my 5 star rating "

About the Author

George Saunders is the New York Times bestselling author of several books as well as the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

About the Narrators

David Sedaris is a playwright and a regular commentator for National Public Radio. He is also the author of the bestselling Barrel Fever, Naked, Holidays on Ice, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Me Talk Pretty One Day. He travels extensively through Europe and the United States on lecture tours and lives in England.

Nick Offerman is an actor, humorist, woodworker, and narrator who has won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration as well as numerous Earphones Awards. He has appeared in the television shows Will & Grace, Parks & Recreation, and Children’s Hospital, the movies Somebody Up There Likes Me, Kings of Summer, Infinity Baby, and Smashed, and the comedy tour Summer of 69: No Apostrophe.