George Saunders’s Lincoln

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George Saunders’s short stories have made him one of the most influential writers working today. He is about to publish his first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo.” He drew inspiration for the book from a statue that stands right outside his office at Syracuse University. The bronze sculpture, “Lincoln the Mystic,” by James Earle Fraser, portrays a young Abraham Lincoln looking contemplative—or, according to Saunders, sad and defeated. For the novelist, Lincoln’s acceptance of “how shitty things are” is a testament to the President’s spiritual wisdom.