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January 2023 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.



THE ABYSS

THE ABYSS

Earphones Award Winner

by Max Hastings | Read by John Hopkins, Max Hastings

Harper Audio
History

John Hopkins's rich, dramatic voice suits this account of the 13 days in 1962 when the world was on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe: the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hopkins artfully meets the challenge of describing the mutual brinksmanship that took place between the Soviet Union and the U.S. when Russian missiles were discovered a mere 90 miles from American shores. Hopkins... Read More

BAD VIBES ONLY

BAD VIBES ONLY

Earphones Award Winner

by Nora McInerny | Read by Nora McInerny

Simon & Schuster Audio
Contemporary Culture

Podcaster Nora McInerny's collection of essays will have listeners nodding and chuckling in recognition as she observes life in the Internet Age. McInerny recounts pivotal moments in her life, both poignant and cringe-worthy. Her experiences cover her childhood in the 1980s, college years in the early 2000s, young adulthood, motherhood, the loss of her first husband to cancer,... Read More

DICKENS AND PRINCE

DICKENS AND PRINCE

Earphones Award Winner

by Nick Hornby | Read by Alex Jennings

Penguin Audio
Contemporary Culture

The beguiling irony in this affecting audiobook begins with the juxtaposition of creative giants who seem at first to be from different planets. But Nick Hornby uses his detailed knowledge of the nineteenth-century English writer Charles Dickens and the late American pop star Prince to show what they shared--extraordinary artistic drive and productivity. During their creative... Read More

THE ESSENTIAL DICK GREGORY

THE ESSENTIAL DICK GREGORY

Earphones Award Winner

by Dick Gregory, Christian Gregory [Ed.] | Read by Joe Morton, Christian Gregory, Andre Gaines, Afrika K. Kenjyatta

Harper Audio
Biography & Memoir

This marvelous narration brings the comedian, activist, vegetarian, and civil rights leader vividly to life. Joe Morton gets Gregory's tone, sound, pace, and humor perfectly. Along with having mastered Gregory's unique style, he captures Gregory's humility, candor, and sense of fun. Emulating his manic energy, Morton lets Gregory's ringing soul come through in this collection... Read More

EVERY MAN A KING

EVERY MAN A KING

Earphones Award Winner

by Walter Mosley | Read by Dion Graham

Hachette Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Dion Graham excels in this sequel to the Edgar Award winner DOWN THE RIVER UNTO THE SEA. Family ties draw investigator Joe "King" Oliver into finding out whether someone has framed a white nationalist for a crime he didn't commit. In a second, unrelated case, King helps the husband of his ex-wife, Monica, whom police arrested for selling heating oil as diesel fuel.... Read More

EXILES

EXILES

Earphones Award Winner

by Jane Harper | Read by Stephen Shanahan

Macmillan Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Stephen Shanahan portrays Aaron Falk, who is in South Australia's wine country to attend his godson's christening. As he and the child's father catch up with each other, talk turns to a cold case involving a missing woman. Shanahan's native Australian accent and easygoing tone help set the scene as Falk becomes ever more involved in helping his friends figure out what happened.... Read More

FOSTER

FOSTER

Earphones Award Winner

by Claire Keegan | Read by Aoife McMahon

HighBridge Audio
Fiction

Claire Keegan's short story is enhanced by Aoife McMahon's exquisite narration. Her soft, melodious accent is the voice of the young, unnamed narrator from an impoverished Irish-Catholic family. Her voice is hurt and unsure as her father drops her off at the home of distant relatives without a suitcase, an explanation, or a goodbye--just an admonishment: "Try not to fall into... Read More

HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE

HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE

Earphones Award Winner

by Grady Hendrix | Read by Mikhaila Aaseng, Jay Aaseng

Penguin Audio
Horror

Narrator Mikhaila Aaseng gives a chilling performance in this haunted house horror story. Louise reluctantly returns to her family home after her parents die. She finds that her mother's obsession with puppets and dolls has filled the house. As she's forced to work with her estranged deadbeat brother in order to sell the property, she learns that the house has other plans.... Read More

THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST

THE INVINCIBLE MISS CUST

Earphones Award Winner

by Penny Haw | Read by Lucy Rayner

Blackstone Audio
Historical Fiction

Narrator Lucy Rayner settles quickly and assuredly into the character of aristocratic Miss Aleen Isabel Cust who, from the age of 6, is determined to ride and work with horses and other animals. From the late 1870s onward, Cust works tirelessly to overcome the hidebound male establishment and become the first woman veterinary surgeon in Britain and Ireland. Rayner adopts a... Read More

JACKAL

JACKAL

Earphones Award Winner

by Erin E. Adams | Read by Sandra Okuboyejo, William DeMeritt

Random House Audio
Horror

The interplay between the narrators' performances--the layered tension of Sandra Okuboyejo's voice and William DeMeritt's deliberately authoritative yet mysterious presentation--creates a chilling listening experience. Liz, a Black woman in her 30s, returns to her hometown of Johnstown for a friend's wedding. Johnstown is a deeply segregated place with a history of mysterious,... Read More

A LAND OF BOOKS

A LAND OF BOOKS

Earphones Award Winner

by Duncan Tonatiuh | Read by Carolina Hoyos

Dreamscape
Children

Carolina Hoyos expertly and lovingly narrates this astounding audiobook. A Mexihcah girl tells her little brother about the history of book making in Mesoamerica before the arrival of Europeans. Book-making techniques are explored in depth--from the plants used to make the pages to the animals, insects, and rocks used to complete and decorate the books. How these books were... Read More

THE LEVEE

THE LEVEE

Earphones Award Winner

by William Kent Krueger | Read by JD Jackson, William Kent Krueger [Note]

Simon & Schuster Audio
Historical Fiction

Golden Voice narrator JD Jackson acts out Krueger's dramatic audio-original novella, which is about the potential breach of a levee, the only thing holding back torrents of water during the unprecedented flooding of the lower Mississippi River in 1927. Four men--three convicts temporarily released and a man named Quince Mobley--arrive by boat and work tirelessly to save the... Read More

MY DARKEST PRAYER

MY DARKEST PRAYER

Earphones Award Winner

by S.A. Cosby | Read by Adam Lazarre-White, S.A. Cosby [Intro.]

Macmillan Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Adam Lazarre-White performs S.A. Cosby's reissued debut novel. Nathan Waymaker is a former law enforcement officer now working at his cousin's funeral home in the Chesapeake Bay area. When a local pastor dies under mysterious circumstances, two women from the pastor's congregation approach Waymaker, offering to pay him to look into the pastor's death. Lazarre-White's... Read More

NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION

NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION

Earphones Award Winner

by Eric Jason Martin | Read by Eric Jason Martin, Matthew Mercer, Erika Ishii, Sam Riegel, Dave Fennoy, Marin Ireland, January LaVoy, James Urbaniak, Emily Lynne

Sound Off Productions
Science Fiction

To call this performance just an audiobook would be an enormous understatement. It's an immersive listening experience with an original score, sound effects, and an entire cast. A disease has taken over the entire world, making social interactions rare and beloved destinations dystopian. Beta-test player John Chambers joins a lifelike virtual reality game in which he can... Read More

PHALAINA

PHALAINA

Earphones Award Winner

by Alice Brière-Haquet, Emma Ramadan [Trans.] | Read by Sophie Amoss

Recorded Books
Children

Sophie Amoss gives her all as she performs this middle-grade fantasy thriller with style and heart. She imbues Albert with compassion for Manon, the girl he finds in the forest, and captures his wife's disdain for her. Manon speaks with a whispery lightness to animals as she tries to learn who/what she is and why she is being hunted. The wide range of characters exhibits deep... Read More

PLAYING UNDER THE PIANO

PLAYING UNDER THE PIANO

Earphones Award Winner

by Hugh Bonneville | Read by Hugh Bonneville

Random House Audio
Biography & Memoir

Hugh Bonneville's memoir is funny, personal, informative, insightful, and fun to listen to. The world-class British actor has a stunning list of credits and famous friends, as well as an abundance of anecdotes, which he delivers with self-deprecating humor. Probably best known to American audiences as the Earl of Grantham in "Downton Abbey," Bonneville has also worked with the... Read More

POETRY UNBOUND

POETRY UNBOUND

Earphones Award Winner

by Pádraig O Tuama | Read by Pádraig O Tuama

Tantor Media
Poetry & Drama

Based on the popular podcast "Poetry Unbound," this audiobook is a fine anthology of poetry, as well as a very good introduction, for those who need it, to how to think about poetry. Even old poetry hands will enjoy and appreciate Pádraig O Tuama's brief and insightful essays accompanying each poem, as well as the poems themselves, many of which are likely to be unfamiliar even... Read More

RACHEL: A PLAY IN THREE ACTS

RACHEL: A PLAY IN THREE ACTS

Earphones Award Winner

by Angelina Weld Grimké | Read by Leon Nixon, Tamika Katon-Donegal, Sean Crisden, Karen Chilton, Cary Hite, Adenrele Ojo, Shayna Small, Cortney Wright, Ron Butler

Brilliance Audio
Poetry & Drama

Leading a cast of well-established, award-winning African American voice talents, Tamika Katon-Donegal gives a voice full of bright sensitivity, intelligence, and hope to Rachel, a young early-twentieth-century Black woman who is coming of age and looking to the future. When Rachel runs headlong into the real-life horrors of American racism, she doubts whether she can follow... Read More

SECRETS TYPED IN BLOOD

SECRETS TYPED IN BLOOD

Earphones Award Winner

by Stephen Spotswood | Read by Kirsten Potter

Random House Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Private detectives Lillian Pentecost and Willowjean Parker are back. Series narrator Kirsten Potter returns with another smashing performance. It's New York City, 1947. Holly Quick, writer of gruesome murder stories for STRANGE CRIMES magazine, hires Pentecost and Parker because she's discovered that three murders from her stories were recently brought to life. But Holly won't... Read More

THE SEVEN MOONS OF MAALI ALMEIDA

THE SEVEN MOONS OF MAALI ALMEIDA

Earphones Award Winner

by Shehan Karunatilaka | Read by Shivantha Wijesinha

HighBridge Audio
Fiction

This year's Booker Prize novel is also one of its most compelling audiobooks. Set in a violent phase of Sri Lanka's recent history, the story is often grim--but also deliciously ingenious and suspenseful. The narrator, recently murdered, addresses himself as "you," reconstructing a storyline in which the afterlife exists simultaneously with the living world and the victim... Read More

THE STOLEN HEIR

THE STOLEN HEIR

Earphones Award Winner

by Holly Black | Read by Saskia Maarleveld

Hachette Audio
Young Adult

Saskia Maarleveld sublimely narrates this highly anticipated return to the world of Elfhame. Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, fled to the human world to live in the woods, where she helps release humans from their bargains with the fae. Her mother, Lady Nore, has taken over the Ice Needle Citadel, and prince Oak of Elfhame needs Suren's help to stop her. Maarleveld... Read More

THEY'RE GOING TO LOVE YOU

THEY'RE GOING TO LOVE YOU

Earphones Award Winner

by Meg Howrey | Read by Meg Howrey

Random House Audio
Fiction

Meg Howrey performs her latest novel, a captivating story set in 1980s and '90s Manhattan. Carlisle grew up with her mother in the Midwest, spending summers in New York City with her father, Robert, and his partner, James. As an adult, Carlisle is estranged from her father and intent on losing herself in her work as a choreographer. Howrey's narration creates an emotionally... Read More

THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

Earphones Award Winner

by Mac Barnett | Read by Mac Barnett

Scholastic Audiobooks
Children

Author and narrator Mac Barnett completely charms in this delightful fairy-tale retelling. Barnett is clearly having a great time relating the story of a hungry troll who waits for tasty morsels to cross the bridge over his head. Young listeners will giggle at Barnett's growly voice for the troll, who rhymes hopefully about a goat flambé with candied yams and a goat clam... Read More

WAYPOINTS

WAYPOINTS

Earphones Award Winner

by Sam Heughan | Read by Sam Heughan

Hachette Audio
Biography & Memoir

Sam Heughan, OUTLANDER's Jamie Fraser, recounts his journey across the 96 miles of Scotland's West Highland Way. The story becomes a metaphor for Heughan's life as an actor in this atmospheric and absorbing memoir. He gives a spirited and heartwarming performance as he interweaves stories of how he became a successful working actor into the details of his arduous trek across... Read More

WHEN THE ANGELS LEFT THE OLD COUNTRY

WHEN THE ANGELS LEFT THE OLD COUNTRY

Earphones Award Winner

by Sacha Lamb | Read by Donald Corren

Recorded Books
Young Adult

Actor Donald Corren brings his vocal skills to this tale of an angel and a demon who leave the shtetl for America to do a mitzvah and to seek excitement. Their fortunes become entangled with a human girl's in an adventure that balances laugh-out-loud humor, Jewish tradition, and gentle affirmation of queer identities. Corren expertly manages it all with his Yiddish-inflected... Read More

WHITE KNIGHTS IN THE BLACK ORCHESTRA

WHITE KNIGHTS IN THE BLACK ORCHESTRA

Earphones Award Winner

by Tom Dunkel | Read by Jamie Renell

Hachette Audio
History

Expertly narrated, richly detailed, and charged with drama, this history of the courageous Germans who stood up against the Nazis will linger in the mind well after one has finished listening. Expect no German accents here, no overtones of menace or impending tragedy. Jamie Renell's restrained, finely nuanced narration vividly conveys the dilemma of Germans who opposed the... Read More

THE ZERO NIGHT

THE ZERO NIGHT

Earphones Award Winner

by Brian Freeman | Read by Joe Barrett

Blackstone Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Married Duluth police detectives investigate the kidnapping of the wife of a lawyer while struggling with crushing physical and psychological challenges. Narrator Joe Barrett brings these characters vividly to life. Listeners share the struggles of Detective Serena Stride as she investigates the crime while dealing with the recent death of her abusive mother. She channels her... Read More

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