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May 2017 Earphones Award Winners

The award is given by AudioFile to truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.


AN ALMOND FOR A PARROT
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Narrator Rachel Atkins brings eighteenth-century London to life--all the squalor and beauty of the teeming metropolis are present in her narration of this bawdy, picaresque homage to Moll Flanders. Tully Truegood is in prison, accused of murder. To pass the time, she writes her memoir of how she became a courtesan. But Tully's story is more complex than the trope of the fallen... Read More

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Through a series of linked stories, Strout revisits the small-town world she introduced in MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON. The citizens, now older but not necessarily wiser, face life's uncertainties as best they can. In an impressive encore performance of Strout's prose, Kimberly Farr successfully mines the essence of each flawed character, giving hope and pain equal billing without... Read More

BEARTOWN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

BEARTOWN is, at its heart, a hockey story. However, with author Backman telling that story and Marin Ireland performing it, this audiobook transcends the cliché of "the big game" and becomes a multifaceted study of humanity, integrity, and loyalty. Ireland narrates in a remarkably adaptable way; her chameleon voice is devoted to developing character, and she's so effective... Read More

BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Jorjeana Marie expresses all the youthful longing of 12-year-old Crow. Crow was just hours old when she was discovered by Osh and Miss Maggie, two inhabitants of an isolated Massachusetts island. Marie portrays the fierce love of these guardians. Osh is wise and enigmatic, and Miss Maggie, strong and bold. When Crow's questions about her original family can't be... Read More

BLACK MAN, WHITE HOUSE
Earphones Award Winner
Humor

The four narrators will have listeners cracking up throughout this comedic look at America's first black president. You've never heard a presidential biography like this one--dubbed an "oral history"--probably because there hasn't been one. Using both general humor and political satire, the authors examine key moments in Barack Obama's career as a senator, presidential... Read More

THE BURIAL HOUR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Deaver's latest entry in the Lincoln Rhyme series takes the familiar characters to Italy in pursuit of a serial killer called The Composer. There could be no better narrator for this audiobook than Edoardo Ballerini. With his stellar acting talents and language skills, he moves fluidly among male and female characters speaking English, Italian, and English with a musical... Read More

THE DARK FLOOD RISES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This masterly novel by the great English author Margaret Drabble is beautifully served by Anna Bentinck's low-key and sensitive performance, which permits the book's language and meaning to shine. Ostensibly about Fran, a "woman of a certain age" who assesses sheltered housing for the elderly, and her relationships with friends, relatives, and acquaintances, the novel is a... Read More

DAYS WITHOUT END
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

If an audiobook that is gorgeously written, tells a heart-thumping story, and is performed with flawless taste and authority is a cause for celebration, chill the champagne. Aiden Kelly gives us Thomas McNulty, a young refugee from Sligo orphaned by the Great Famine who has found his way to the America of the Indian Wars, the Civil War, and worlds of gore, mayhem, and... Read More

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The quintessential square peg, Eleanor Oliphant is intelligent and efficient in her daily work at an office in Scotland--but at a loss when it comes to human relationships. Narrator Cathleen McCarron's articulated British accent and studied pacing lend weight to Eleanor's apparent alienation from the world--and her immediate charm to listeners. Whether considered internally or... Read More

THE GO-BETWEEN
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Karla Souza (who plays Laurel on "How to Get Away with Murder") creates a pitch-perfect, youthful narration of Cammi, an ultra-privileged teen whose life is transformed. When Cammi's Mexican telenovela superstar mom moves the family to the U.S. to play a maid in an American television show, Cammi's new friends at progressive Polestar Academy assume Cammi is an immigrant kid on... Read More

HELLO, UNIVERSE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Ramon de Ocampo and Amielynn Abellera narrate this charming story, told from four points of view. We meet shy Virgil, brave Valencia, bullying Chet, and fortune-telling Kaori, whose middle school lives fatefully intersect one summer day. De Ocampo perfectly captures Virgil's painful timidity--and just as easily brings to life Lola, Virgil's wise, sassy Filipino grandmother, who... Read More

IT HAPPENED IN SCOTLAND
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Kirsten Potter finds complementary voices for the characters of Gangiegow, Scotland, just as Rachel stitches together complementary tartan squares for the quilts she loves to make. She journeys to Scotland as a widow, bringing her daughter, Hannah, to meet her husband's family, not realizing her old flame, Brodie, has also returned to the village. Potter manages the... Read More

KILL THE FATHER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This is a textbook thriller: Police work against the clock to halt an increasing series of violent crimes. The opening, featuring a boy named Dante who is imprisoned in a silo, is unlike any other you've heard. Cassandra Campbell narrates this eerie story of a criminal known as "the Father" who returns decades later to haunt Dante and others. Campbell shows her dexterity as a... Read More

LION
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

LION is a gripping true story well told, making it a compelling audiobook. Narrator Vikas Adam's clear diction and engaging Australian accent are easy to embrace right from the beginning, a beginning that captivates with its air of mystery and remarkable revelations. The incredible true story of a lost child who travels from India to Australia is fascinating; assigning the... Read More

THE LOST ORDER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Scott Brick's smooth voice flows with the twists and turns of Berry's political thriller as former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone uncovers a Civil War secret society, stolen gold, and a constitutional crisis in the making. The action moves across North America from the Smithsonian Institution to Arkansas, from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the wilds of... Read More

MISS YOU
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrators Anna Acton and Finlay Robertson alternate chapters in recounting the lives of Tess and Gus as they periodically intersect over 16 years. Tess, portrayed in a fluid voice by Acton, struggles with her mother's death as she raises her younger sister and seeks meaning in her life. Gus, portrayed by Robertson, feels he's living in the shadow of his late brother, who was... Read More

THE MURDERER'S APE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Kimberly Farr convincingly renders every accent and personality of the many diverse characters in this unusual novel. In 1904, Sally Jones, a gorilla who can read and write, is caged until compassionate sea captain Henry Koskela purchases her. Farr's Sally Jones is fully believable as she recounts her story on an Underwood typewriter. When Koskela is falsely imprisoned for... Read More

OFF BASE
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Zack Nelson sweats it out in Navy SEALS training, hoping no one discovers his hidden preference for guys. Then, a renovation project at his off-base housing brings Pike Reynolds and a chance at happily ever after for Zack. Narrator Tyler Stevens captures Zack's agonizing dilemma as he wavers between coming out and bowing to family expectations. He voices Zack as a tough SEAL... Read More

THE ONE INSIDE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The gravelly voice of narrator Bill Pullman sets the mood for this introspective monologue of an aging actor who dreams of his late father and contemplates the women who remain vivid in his memory. Pullman finds the soul of this short novel, pulling out the rhythm of the prose, transforming it to poetry. The language is striking and sparse, reminiscent of theater directions,... Read More

OPENLY STRAIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Rafe, who's been out since he was 14, escapes labeling by leaving Colorado for a private boy's school in New England. From the first, Pete Cross's narration describes the high spirits of Rafe and his family. His loving mother is overly involved and well intentioned. His father is jokey as he records this big event. Rafe teases his parents affably as he prepares for his great... Read More

PLEASE ENJOY YOUR HAPPINESS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

In the words of the American lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, "There's always one you can't forget." Narrator James Langton bears listeners on the waves of memory with a lightness in his polished British voice that belies the sadness of a love affair never meant to last. Brinkley-Rogers recalls his profound relationship with an older woman named Yukiko while stationed in Japan in 1959... Read More

POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON'T LOOK FRIENDLY
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Gerard Doyle has provided the voice of Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy since the first audiobook of the series. Returning for Book 6, he's more in tune with Duffy's complexity than ever before. A Catholic cop in Northern Ireland's Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Duffy has to be on full alert, always checking under his car for bombs and other safety precautions. But when... Read More

QUICKSAND
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Saskia Maarleveld expertly teases out the many questions swirling around this story's unreliable teen narrator. Charged with involvement in a school shooting at an elite private school in Stockholm, Maja is initially unlikable. But Maarleveld coaxes out the audiobook's nuances, capturing Maja's emotional shifts from petty scorn to longing uncertainty to a dawning sense of... Read More

THE STORY OF FERDINAND
Earphones Award Winner
Children

With a gentle Spanish accent and leisurely pacing, narrator Brian Amador lends just the right ambiance to the classic tale of Ferdinand, the young bull who has absolutely no interest in bullfighting. Just as Ferdinand moves at an unhurried pace, so, too, does Amador. Phrases are drawn out, and long pauses are offered between moments in the story, which are perfect for... Read More

TO THE ISLANDS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Humphrey Bower is a narrator who could read the phone book and keep listeners enthralled. Performing Randolph Stow's 1958 novel, he is absolutely spellbinding. Stow reveals a shameful period in Australian history when its policy toward its Aboriginal population was unabashedly racist. An aging Heriot is chaplain of an Anglican mission in a remote part of Western Australia. Sent... Read More

TRAITOR TO THE THRONE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Soneela Nankani, who narrated the first in this series, continues Amani's first-person story. Bold, snarky Amani lives in a land that melds the Old West and the world of the Arabian nights. Amani is even more central to this plot, and Nankani deepens her personality accordingly. At the story's opening, Amani is imprisoned, and Nankani stresses equally her sarcasm and... Read More

VASSA IN THE NIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Madeleine Maby's performance never waivers throughout this audiobook for teens. Magic appears in many forms in this Russian folktale turned modern-day horror story. Maby maintains credibility and consistency throughout the many characters that populate the story, clearly distinguishing who or what creature is speaking. Especially well done are the two "lawyers," Picnic... Read More

THE WANDERERS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Mozhan Marno narrates a story about training for an expedition to Mars with expert voicing of the many characters. Prime Space, a private company, has selected three astronauts to send to Mars. Before they can go, they must withstand a seventeen-month long simulation of the trip to test their psychological and physical well-being--all, paradoxically, in intense isolation but... Read More

WINDY CITY BLUES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The award-winning voice actor Robin Miles has a wonderful affinity for accents and character voices. This intimate look at the rise of Chicago's electric blues and the Chess Record label in the late 1940s and '50s gives her a perfect stage. Miles produces a myriad of character voices--from legendary bluesman Muddy Waters's Mississippi growl to harmonica player Little Walter's... Read More

THE WISE MAN'S FEAR
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Narrator Nick Podehl arrives at the end of this long audiobook, the second in the Kingkiller series, as engaged and fresh as he was at the start. The story of Kvothe continues as he begins another year at university, where he struggles to pay tuition and literally sings for his supper. Podehl adeptly presents the broad cast of characters--from moneylenders and courtesans to... Read More

WORD BY WORD
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Lexicographer Kory Stamper has always loved words. After struggles with organic chemistry steered her from a medical career, she joined the Merriam-Webster company in Massachusetts. In her book, she takes listeners on a verbal tour of her office and the work that goes into creating dictionaries. She narrates with a delight and fascination with language. Showing wry,... Read More

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