Best-selling Author George Saunders Wins 2017 Man Booker Prize

George Saunders won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, becoming the second American in a row to win the prestigious British literary award after the rules were changed in 2014 to allow authors of any book written in English and published in the U.K. to compete. Last year’s Booker Prize, a igh-profile literary award went to “The Sellout,” by American writer Paul Beatty.

It is the first full-length novel from Saunders, previously best known for his short stories. The surreal, experimental novel’s structure is strikingly unusual. It’s composed largely of brief quotations from letters, diaries, newspaper articles, personal testimonies and later scholars, each one meticulously attributed. “Lincoln in the Bardo,” — a fictional account of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, grieving over the death of his beloved 11-year-old son, Willie, from typhoid fever in 1862. Bardo is a 'Tibetan Buddhist' concept which is a form of limbo between death and rebirth.

The judges praised Saunders for a "unique" and "extraordinary" piece of work. Baroness Lola Young, chair of the Man Booker Prize, stated that “The form and style of this utterly original novel reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative” at a ceremony Tuesday evening in London. "I carried that idea around for 20 years," Saunders has said regarding the story."I really didn't want to write about Lincoln but was so captivated by this story" he added.

Saunders was presented with his award by the Duchess of Cornwall. The prize, worth approximately $66,000, virtually guarantees increased sales around the world, though “Lincoln in the Bardo” was already a bestseller in the United States and the movie rights have been sold already.

58 years old author who has won numerous awards for his short stories and essays, teaches in the Creative Writing program at Syracuse University.

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