Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders’ riveting novel of American history, cemetery ghosts and and lives cut tragically short, has won the prestigious 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

‘The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative,” said Baroness Lola Young, chair of the judges. “This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. Lincoln in the Bardo is both rooted in, and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy.’

Last March, Deadline broke the news that Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman had acquired movie rights to the bestselling Random House novel and will produce the adaptation with Saunders.

Offerman tweeted last night, “Huzzah!!! Well-deserved, you dapper pen-jockey!!!”

The Man Booker, announced by Young last night, includes a £50,000 prize. Lincoln in the Bardo is the first novel from short story writer Saunders. The Texas-born author, 58, lives in New York and is only the second American author ever to win in the prize’s 49-year history.

The remarkable, experimental novel is set on the night that the body of Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie is laid to rest in a Washington cemetery. The boy’s spirit, along with other unsettled souls trapped in the “bardo” – a Buddhist term for a transitory state between lives – pass the night, building to a visit from the grief-stricken president.

Here is a clip of Young describing the prize committee’s reasons for choosing Lincoln in the Bardo.