Oct. 18 (UPI) -- American author George Saunders has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.
Saunders is the second American to win the award which was made open to U.S. authors in 2014. Last year, American Paul Beatty was given the Man Booker Prize for The Sellout. Winners receive a $66,000 cash prize.
Lincoln in the Bardo follows Abraham Lincoln's visit to the grave of his 11-year-old son Willie inside the Washington cemetery. The novel is narrated by a number of dead characters who are trapped with Willie inside the graveyard and are unable to let go of life.
Lola Young who chairs the Booker judging panel called the work "utterly original" and praised the story for being "witty, intelligent, and deeply moving."
Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders' first novel. The 58-year-old is an acclaimed short story writer who won the Folio Prize in 2014 for his collection Tenth of December.
Saunders described the award as a "great honor" during his acceptance speech where he also commented on the current political climate in America.
"As you might have noticed, we live in a strange time. I have noticed it. So the question at the heart of the matter I think is pretty simple. Do we respond to fear with exclusion and negative projection and violence? Or do we take that ancient great leap of faith and do our best to respond with love?" Saunders said onstage.