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September 2021 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.


APPLES NEVER FALL
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The Delaneys are not an ordinary family, and Joy and Stan, well-respected retired tennis coaches and parents of four near-pros, find themselves immersed in the mystery of a lifetime. Australian narrator Caroline Lee is an amazing performer who digs so deeply into her characters' personas that listeners will become addicted to each witty, insightful, and gutsy one. Lee's... Read More

THE ARCHER
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Sneha Mathan mesmerizes listeners with this coming-of-age story set in 1960s and 1970s Bombay. Using soft tones and subtle Indian accents, Mathan smoothly transitions between characters of different ages and genders. Her performance especially shines in her ability to channel Vidya, the story's strong, flawed female protagonist who grows up in poverty with her brother.... Read More

THE ART OF PATIENCE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator David Pittu unpacks his full valise of vocalizations in this exceptional story of encountering one of the planet's least seen animals--the snow leopard. He narrates this all-too-brief audiobook, modulating its quiet drama, poetic riffs, and personal asides at a careful pace in a style that reveals the workings of the famous French travel writer's philosophical mind.... Read More

BE BOLD
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Pilates instructor and student of neuroscience Alexis Fernandez is excited about human potential, and you can hear it in this refreshing guide to unlocking your biggest plans. A Spanish-South American raised in Australia, she has a charming accented voice that she combines with hip straight talk to make this a fun audio to hear. The obstacles she outlines will sound... Read More

THE BOLDNESS OF BETTY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Eva-Jane Gaffney is more actor than narrator in this stellar production. She laughs, cries, and even sings as she delivers the memoir of a fictional character's experiences during the 1913 workers' strike in Dublin. Betty Rafferty, a 14-year-old working-class shop girl, sounds like the friend you always wanted. Betty's family and friends take part in an uncompromising... Read More

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Marin Ireland and Simon Jones sparkle as they narrate this immersive time-traveling novel. They vividly deliver the stories that weave through this audiobook. A gifted mimic, Ireland performs subtle and effective emulations of Australian, Italian, and English accents. When she slows down to enunciate the classical Greek sprinkled throughout the text, her reading shimmers with... Read More

DAUGHTER OF THE MORNING STAR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator George Guidall performs Book 17 in the Sheriff Walt Longmire series with all of his masterful storytelling talent on display. The sheriff and his partner-in-justice, Henry Standing Bear, are requested by Tribal Police Chief Lola Long to investigate death threats being sent to her niece, Jaya, a talented high school basketball player. They also look into the earlier... Read More

DIGGER AND ME
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Laurence Boxhall flawlessly presents endearing James as he faces his parents' divorce in this coming-of-age story. Listeners observe the close bond James has with his dog, Digger, and are saddened when James discovers a lump on Digger's leg. Boxhall skillfully introduces outstanding teacher Mr. Froggett, who warmly encourages his sixth graders to write poetry. Other... Read More

FALLOUT
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Roy Samuelson, who narrated Sheinkin's prize-winning BOMB, delivers his newest nonfiction. Listeners who were enthralled by the first audiobook will again be gripped, this time by his compelling dramatization of the Cold War era. Right away, Samuelson renders an impressive blow-by-blow account of a Russian espionage operation. As transitions back and forth in time provide... Read More

FRESH
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Lori Prince transforms this funny, heartwarming novel into something truly extraordinary with her ebullient narration. Elliot arrives at Emerson College with no idea what she wants to study but ready to soak up every new experience. She delves headfirst into a world of new friendships, casual sex, and dorm drama, and soon realizes there's a lot more to college than parties and... Read More

HARLEM SHUFFLE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Dion Graham's performance invites listeners into the world of New York in the early 1960s. As his voice captures the feel of the times, he skillfully brings listeners the coffee shops, storefronts, and conversations of the era. Whitehead's audiobook centers on Ray Carney, who operates a struggling furniture store but is unable to escape his background in crime. His cousin... Read More

HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Narrator Neil Shah delights in Salman Rushdie's phantasmagorical story, full of allegory and wonder. Haroun's father, the Shah of Blah, loses his storytelling abilities when his wife leaves him. To reclaim his father's gift of gab, Haroun enters the Sea of Stories, accompanied by a water genie, a mechanical hoopoe, and several others. Together, they must rescue the kidnapped... Read More

HOW TO MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

With her youthful voice and earnest optimism, narrator Marisol Ramirez helps this mental health guide become a transformative journey toward healing and wisdom about living. The writing, by a Spanish psychiatrist, combines the author's wide-ranging clinical experience with a keen perspective on the challenges of contemporary living. From trauma and abuse to daily stresses we... Read More

IT'S BETTER THIS WAY
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Thérèse Plummer demonstrates the power of forgiveness in a moving performance that stays with listeners long after the story ends. Divorced retiree Julia Jones tries to build a better relationship between her ex-husband and her two grown daughters. As she finds her own true love, this endeavor becomes complicated and emotionally fraught. Plummer walks listeners through... Read More

JUSTINE
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

Nicholas Boulton offers a masterful performance of this first volume of Lawrence Durrell's famed Alexandria Quartet. Boulton's rich voice, whether persuasive with seduction or throaty with frustration, captures the experience of an unnamed narrator as he succumbs to the charms of 1940s Alexandria, Egypt, and a few of its most alluring denizens--the enigmatic "Jewess," Justine;... Read More

MAKE GOOD THE PROMISES
Earphones Award Winner
History

This audiobook is a companion to an exhibit on Reconstruction at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. A variety of authors take a historical perspective on the period. The most poignant work is Kimberlé Crenshaw's essay, which looks at the era through the lens of the 2015 attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Karen Chilton's... Read More

MATRIX
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Adjoa Andoh's masterful narration channels the power running throughout Groff's much anticipated novel. Distressingly tall and awkward, Marie de France, half sister of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is exiled to a decrepit, far-flung abbey. First, as prioress and, then, as abbess, Marie begins her life's work, audaciously transforming the abbey into an empowering and wholly unique... Read More

THE MURDER ON THE LINKS
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

This adaptation of a classic Christie whodunit to vintage radio drama format is absolutely delicious. Evocative music and portentous sound effects greatly enhance the fun, and the cast is superb. Many great actors have taken on the fussy little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, but none better than Alfred Molina here. His Poirot is still punctilious and obsessive, but also warm... Read More

THE NINE
Earphones Award Winner
History

This well-researched audiobook focuses on nine women resistance fighters who, despite starvation and torture, remained steadfast in their loyalty to each other. Narrator Juliet Stevenson pours her considerable talent into her performance to make the Dutch, French, and German accents of these women sound authentic to her listeners. As the Allies closed in, the Nazis forced... Read More

THE OTHER PASSENGER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Nothing is exactly what it seems in Louise Candlish's expertly plotted mystery. Narrator Steven Mackintosh offers up a chilling performance as Jamie Buckby. Jamie and Claire live well on Claire's income. Due to extreme claustrophobia, Jamie commutes to work by boat. He begins a friendship of a sort with fellow commuter Kit. Kit and his gorgeous wife, Melia, both actors, are... Read More

PLENTY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Food writer Hannah Howard narrates her own memoir of food, memory, and life. She is earnest and energetic as she recounts her training as a chef, her path to becoming a cheese expert, and her search for the ideal partner with whom to start a family. Howard is like a good friend sitting in the kitchen and regaling you with pithy anecdotes. Listeners will laugh and relate to her... Read More

PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Adam Grupper is impressive as he portrays writer-director James Lapine in this mixed bag of an audiobook--part oral history, part memoir, and part description of how a musical gets written and produced. The musical? Stephen Sondheim and Lapine's Tony Award-winning SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (1984). Lapine interviewed 40 people connected with the show, and Alyssa... Read More

REALM BREAKER
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Through Natalie Naudus's expert narration, listeners are transported to the fantasy realm of Allward. It's being threatened by a dark and dangerous foe, and Corayne, the last of an ancient lineage, along with her band of unlikely companions, are the last hope to save their home from destruction. The world-building of this novel is robust and includes a large cast of characters... Read More

REDEMPTOR
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Joniece Abbott-Pratt makes a triumphant return to narrate this thrilling sequel to RAYBEARER. Tarisai is now empress of Aritsar, and reckoning with its disturbing legacy. She faces daunting tasks--first, to anoint a council of rulers and, then, to enter the Underworld to end the centuries-long practice of sacrificing children to appease its malevolent spirits. But Tarisai is... Read More

SIDELINED
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Julie DiCaro was an especially rare phenomenon--a woman on sports talk radio who was allowed to express an opinion. With palpable and justified anger, DiCaro outlines the underlying sexism of her industry, the harassment she and other female reporters experienced when they dared to report on the sexual misconduct of male athletes, and the evil and anonymous Internet trolls who... Read More

SOMEONE TO CHERISH
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

With gentle mastery, narrator Rosalyn Landor gives an exceptional performance of this eighth title in the Wescott series--though listeners can easily enjoy it as a stand-alone listen. After Lydia Tavernor and Harry Wescott independently suffer a tragedy, each needs to discover him- or herself independently. But on a walk home together one night, a simple question leads to... Read More

SUMMER FUN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

On one level, this remarkable audiobook focuses on Gala, a trans woman who is looking for meaning in contemporary New Mexico. Deeper focus, however, is given to Gala's quasi-biographical fan letters to (and about) B--, the genius behind 1960s surf band the Get Happies. Intensity mounts as Gala's and B--'s experiences of gender and displacement overlap, and author Jeanne... Read More

TOGETHER WE WILL GO
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A full cast narrates this controversial story of 12 strangers who embark upon on a cross-country road trip, brought together by their mutual desire to commit suicide. Disillusioned writer Mark Antonelli leads the group; he outfits an old tour bus and picks up companions along the way. With its engaging mix of emails, recordings, and sound effects, this book is perfectly... Read More

THE TURNOUT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Rarely will listeners find a dark contemporary fiction so exquisitely narrated that it becomes an instant classic. Cassandra Campbell portrays the story of two sisters, Dara and Marie, who continue the legacy of the Durant School of Dance, started by their mother. Approaching the annual performance of THE NUTCRACKER, the Durants hire a contractor, Derek, who becomes Marie's... Read More

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Gisela Chípe successfully juggles the many characters and subplots in this exciting, odd (in a good way) mystery set in 1970s Mexico. The government underwrites a group of thugs to do whatever's necessary to keep down student protests and civil unrest. While Elvis is an enforcer, Chípe's performance makes clear how his inner life conflicts with his work. Chípe also... Read More

WAYWARD
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Listeners seeking a feast for the ears, and for their hearts and minds as well, can do no better than to dive into this intoxicating audiobook, wonderfully performed by Susan Bennett. Spiotta is acclaimed for her well-considered settings, replete with period details, and her portrait of contemporary Syracuse may be her best yet. There is much to ponder here. Bennett's... Read More

WHEN GHOSTS COME HOME
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

JD Jackson's performance is particularly skillful as he shifts among the multiple points of view of key characters whose stories are intertwined in this tense thriller. Cash's audiobook is set in a North Carolina beach town, a calm place that belies the intrigue and fear below its surface. Winston, the sheriff, responds to an early morning call to an airplane crash, where he... Read More

WHEN YOU AND I COLLIDE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Set during WWII, this teen audiobook is an engaging mix of sci-fi and historical drama. Narrator Sarah Naughton voices Winnie Schulde, the daughter of a physicist who cruelly experiments on her, trying to unravel the theory of multiple universes. When an experiment goes wrong, Winnie transports to another universe where she encounters-- herself. Portraying the same characters... Read More

THE WOMEN OF TROY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Author Pat Barker and narrator Kristin Atherton combine their considerable powers in this second volume of Barker's Trojan trilogy, giving us a remarkable listening experience. After Troy's collapse, the victorious Greeks are trapped by onshore wind and cannot sail home. Instead, for 10 months, they drink and fight and plot. Filled with clever sketches of such mythic Greek... Read More

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