U.S. Author Wins Von Rezzori Prize

George Saunders

George Saunders received the Von Rezzori award in a ceremony at the Sala d’Arme,  Palazzo Vecchio on May 3 with his acclaimed novel Lincoln in the Bardo.

The novel takes place in 1862, in the beginning of Civil War. President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son, Willie, is very ill at the White House and in just a few days he dies. Inspired by this real-life situation, Saunders tells the story of familial love and loss wrapped in a fantastical novel. Willie Lincoln is trapped in a strange purgatory where he is transitioning to after-life. In this transitional state – bardo in Tibetian philosophy – Willlie Lincoln tries to free himself but the grief and love of his father will not let him go.

Known for his short-stories, Saunders has received multiple awards for his first novel Lincoln in the Bardo including Man Booker Prize, was listed as a New York Times Bestseller and Time magazine’s Top 10 books of 2017.

The other writers shortlisted for the 2018 Von Rezzori prize were American Katie Kitamura with the suspenseful novel Una separazione (A Separation), Russian-born French Andrei Makine with an anti-Stalin story set in the Siberian landscape of L’arcipelago della nuova vita (L’archipel d’une autre vie), Englishman Lawrence Osborne with thriller Cacciatori nel buio (Hunters in the Dark), and the Canadian-born English writer David Szalay with a collection of short stories Tutto quello che è un uomo (All that Man Is).