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May 2022 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.



1984

1984

Earphones Award Winner

by George Orwell | Read by Peter Noble

Dreamscape
Classics

[Editors' Note: This audiobook is not available in the U.S.]--Even if you read this dystopian novel in school, you will be shocked when you hear it performed today. Peter Noble's skillful narration of the classic story of government oppression could not be more frightening. The lack of sound effects or other voices adds to the terrible dread and soul-numbing fear that... Read More

BE THE BRAVE ONE

BE THE BRAVE ONE

Earphones Award Winner

by Ann Kansfield | Read by Nan McNamara

ChristianAudio
Biography & Memoir

This audiobook's subtitle, "Living Your Spiritual Values Out Loud," might cause listeners to expect a self-help guide to publicly expressing their spirituality, but it really is an engaging spiritual memoir. Nan McNamara's narration is captivating. Her pacing makes the text flow smoothly, and her tone matches the material. She becomes the author for listeners, expressing... Read More

BEAT THE DEVILS

BEAT THE DEVILS

Earphones Award Winner

by Josh Weiss | Read by Fred Berman

Hachette Audio
Mystery & Suspense

This audiobook is much more than a thriller. Set in an alternative history with red-scare flag bearer Joseph McCarthy as president, it blends fictional and real characters. As LAPD detective Morris Baker investigates two deaths, he becomes immersed in a cover-up that puts him in danger. The production would be a challenge for any narrator, but Fred Berman handles it... Read More

BOOK LOVERS

BOOK LOVERS

Earphones Award Winner

by Emily Henry | Read by Julia Whelan

Penguin Audio
Romantic Fiction

Julia Whelan's dynamic performance will have listeners savoring every literary reference and word in this romance novel. Nora is unlucky in romantic love, but she loves her work as a book agent, New York City, and her sister, Libby. As Libby persuades Nora to vacation with her in rural North Carolina, her plan is to find Nora a man. But things go awry when Nora runs into... Read More

CHECKOUT 19

CHECKOUT 19

Earphones Award Winner

by Claire-Louise Bennett | Read by Claire-Louise Bennett

Penguin Audio
Fiction

In this tour de force, author and narrator Claire-Louise Bennett presents language with such precision that the listener is astounded at the power of the spoken word. In a town in southwest England, a young woman who works as a supermarket cashier on Checkout 19 reads relentlessly, absorbing literature as she keenly observes the world around her. Bennett expertly delivers the... Read More

CHILEAN POET

CHILEAN POET

Earphones Award Winner

by Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell [Trans.] | Read by Gisela Chìpe

Penguin Audio
Fiction

Gisela Chìpe does a beautiful job narrating this touching--and at times hilarious--novel about fatherhood. The story takes place in Maipú, Chile, and shifts between the 1990s and the present day, centering on aspiring poet Gonzalo and his stepson, Vicente. Gonzalo helps raise Vicente for several years but suddenly goes to New York. Later, when Gonzalo returns to Chile, he... Read More

THE CHIMPANZEE WHISPERER

THE CHIMPANZEE WHISPERER

Earphones Award Winner

by Stany Nyandwi, David Blissett, Dr. Jane Goodall [Fore.] | Read by Dion Graham, Callie Beaulieu [Fore.]

OrangeSky Audio
Biography & Memoir

This audiobook explores the life of Stany Nyandwi, a gifted African primatologist whose talents and ability to communicate with chimpanzees led famed researcher Jane Goodall to describe him as a "chimp whisperer." Narrator Dion Graham so inhabits the memoir that listeners easily could swear he's the author. He adopts an accent that to Western ears sounds authentic without... Read More

DEAD SILENCE

DEAD SILENCE

Earphones Award Winner

by S.A. Barnes | Read by Lauren Ezzo

Macmillan Audio
Horror

Narrator Lauren Ezzo delivers a chilling performance in this haunting audiobook about a decades-lost luxury spaceship. Just days before her final assignment comes to an end, Claire and her crew pick up a distress signal. Discovering the AURORA, famous for having vanished halfway through its maiden voyage, could mean a huge reward. But something isn't right, and more awaits the... Read More

FALLING SHORT

FALLING SHORT

Earphones Award Winner

by Ernesto Cisneros | Read by Timothy Andrés Pabon, Gary Tiedemann

Harper Audio
Children

Timothy Andrés Pabon and Gary Tiedemann adeptly narrate this story about middle-school angst and basketball. Issac and Marco have been neighbors and best friends since kindergarten. Marco is an A student whose parents' recent divorce has made him sad. He hopes that playing basketball will get his father's attention. Issac excels at sports but not academics. He hopes that better... Read More

FINDING ME

FINDING ME

Earphones Award Winner

by Viola Davis | Read by Viola Davis

Harper Audio
Biography & Memoir

Actor Viola Davis doesn't mince words. Her audiobook captures the voice of a woman with a fascinating, heartbreaking lived experience. Davis's performance here is essentially a one-woman show, bringing listeners in close from the first moments. While she was growing up in a condemned property, her family struggled with poverty. But her hard work and talent brought her to the... Read More

FREE

FREE

Earphones Award Winner

by Lea Ypi | Read by Rachel Bavidge, Lea Ypi

Tantor Media
Biography & Memoir

This audiobook combines a memoir that translates perfectly to the spoken-word format with a flawless, memorable narration by Rachel Bavidge. Bavidge's tone and delivery capture every emotion during author Lea Ypi's journey from repression to freedom. At its core, this is a coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in Communist Albania in a time of dramatic political upheaval.... Read More

GALLANT

GALLANT

Earphones Award Winner

by V.E. Schwab | Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt

Harper Audio
Young Adult

Julian Rhind-Tutt narrates a charming gothic fantasy about a girl's unusual experiences at a mysterious manor called Gallant. Olivia is a mute teen who is adrift at a school for girls. An invitation to come home to Gallant sets her on a journey filled with self-discovery, ghouls, and ominous secrets. Rhind-Tutt's patient pacing suits the story as spine-tingling elements slowly... Read More

GOOD ENOUGH

GOOD ENOUGH

Earphones Award Winner

by Kate Bowler, Jessica Richie | Read by Kate Bowler, Jessica Richie

Random House Audio
Philosophy & Religion

Friends and collaborators Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie share the narration of this book of remembrances, blessings, and more. Their voices, differing in timbre and pitch, make it easy to tell which one is speaking while never pulling listeners out of the flow of the narrative. Bowler's deep, rich tones contrast nicely with Richie's lighter, more youthful voice, offering... Read More

GROUNDSKEEPING

GROUNDSKEEPING

Earphones Award Winner

by Lee Cole | Read by Michael Crouch

Random House Audio
Fiction

Love and its complexities--familial, romantic, geographical--are the backbone of this excellent audiobook. As Owen leads us through his time as groundskeeper at a Kentucky college, his days are punctuated by his budding romance with visiting author Alma and his entry into the creative writing program. Narrator Michael Crouch provides distinct vocal shifts as he portrays entire... Read More

HER HIDDEN GENIUS

HER HIDDEN GENIUS

Earphones Award Winner

by Marie Benedict | Read by Nicola Barber

Audible, Inc.
Historical Fiction

Nicola Barber's expressive narration captures the inner life and scientific mindset of Rosalind Franklin, the great English biophysicist. Barber's ability to seamlessly switch intonation from the protagonist's upper-class British inflection to American, French, and other accents shapes the listening experience of this remarkable story of grit and determination. Author... Read More

INHERITANCE

INHERITANCE

Earphones Award Winner

by Elizabeth Acevedo | Read by Elizabeth Acevedo

Harper Audio
Young Adult

Poet Elizabeth Acevedo's narration of her groundbreaking spoken-word poem resonates with love, understanding, and heartbreak. Originally titled "Hair," the work achieved viral fame during her 2014 poetry slam circuit. With a thrumming rhythm and exquisitely placed pauses, Acevedo celebrates the beauty and import of Black hair. Her voice dips in sorrow as she notes that too many... Read More

KAMILA KNOWS BEST

KAMILA KNOWS BEST

Earphones Award Winner

by Farah Heron | Read by Soneela Nankani

Hachette Audio
Romantic Fiction

The remarkably talented narrator Soneela Nankani performs this feel-good romance flawlessly. Kamila Hussain is living the perfect life. Friends, family, career, she's got it all--well, almost all. Her love life has been a little dry lately. She also has Rohan Nasser, her brother-in-law and longtime friend, but why are his forearms suddenly making her belly flop?? And why is... Read More

LIFE BETWEEN THE TIDES

LIFE BETWEEN THE TIDES

Earphones Award Winner

by Adam Nicolson | Read by Leighton Pugh

Tantor Media
Contemporary Culture

English actor Leighton Pugh's engaging midrange voice, which is both crisp and warm, is the perfect accompaniment to Adam Nicolson's consideration of life in those intertidal rock pools particularly beloved by children--and grown-ups like Nicolson, an award-winning author, naturalist, and historian. Audibly curious and awed, Pugh's attentive pacing and sheer friendliness... Read More

MECCA

MECCA

Earphones Award Winner

by Susan Straight | Read by Frankie Corzo, Patricia R. Floyd, Shaun Taylor-Corbett

Recorded Books
Fiction

Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Patricia Floyd, and Frankie Corzo create an ensemble of narrators almost as diverse as the many characters in this sprawling and impassioned novel. It focuses on the lives and heritages of the "other" Americans who make up the backbone of Southern California. There's the highway patrolman who is a descendant of the first Spanish settlers. A nurse whose... Read More

MEMPHIS

MEMPHIS

Earphones Award Winner

by Tara M. Stringfellow | Read by Karen Murray, Adenrele Ojo, Tara M. Stringfellow

Random House Audio
Fiction

Narrators Karen Murray and Adenrele Ojo perform this celebrated debut novel by former attorney Stringfellow with a deliberate rhythm and poignant empathy. Murray and Ojo shine as 10-year-old Joan moves with her mother and sister to live with their aunt to escape an abusive relationship. The narrative moves backward and forward in time, revealing deep wounds inflicted by racism... Read More

MY EVIL MOTHER

MY EVIL MOTHER

Earphones Award Winner

by Margaret Atwood | Read by Hillary Huber

Brilliance Audio
Fiction

Narrator Hillary Huber is enchanting in the role of a daughter who is spilling her mother's dark secrets. Raised in the 1950s, the daughter details the strange habits and lore of her single mother. Dangerous herbs, a father turned into a garden gnome, deadly prophecies--the daughter hardly knows what's fantasy and what's real. Huber's vulnerable confessional tone for the... Read More

NOTHING BURNS AS BRIGHT AS YOU

NOTHING BURNS AS BRIGHT AS YOU

Earphones Award Winner

by Ashley Woodfolk | Read by Amani Minter

Harper Audio
Young Adult

Amani Minter's quiet and heartfelt narration grounds the listener in this story of an all-consuming friendship and a fierce first love. Listeners meet two unnamed Black teenage girls. The story is told primarily through one girl's point of view as she addresses the other girl as "you." Minter's pleasantly husky voice recounts a tense and emotional day when the pair set fires,... Read More

POET WARRIOR

POET WARRIOR

Earphones Award Winner

by Joy Harjo | Read by Joy Harjo

Audible, Inc.
Biography & Memoir

Joy Harjo, the first Native American U.S. poet laureate, provides a stunning memoir filled with wisdom and compassion. In her strong, deep voice, Harjo delivers a dreamy, lyrical narration. In calm, appealing tones she shares tales of her Muscogee/Creek ancestors, personal anecdotes and remembrances, her early love of words, the stories and poems told by her beloved mother, and... Read More

THE ROME ZOO

THE ROME ZOO

Earphones Award Winner

by Pascal Janovjak | Read by Robert Meldrum

Bolinda Audio
Fiction

Robert Meldrum's eloquent voice and fluid narrative style do full justice to this darkly humorous novel set in one of the oldest zoological gardens in Italy. At the heart of this slightly surreal story is the relationship between Giovanna, who was hired by the zoo to reimagine the venerable institution's public image, and Chahine, a mysterious Algerian visitor with whom she... Read More

SHADOWS OF BERLIN

SHADOWS OF BERLIN

Earphones Award Winner

by David R. Gillham | Read by Suzanne Toren

Recorded Books
Historical Fiction

Suzanne Toren's performance is a tour de force. In 1955, in New York City, Rachel, a Jewish refugee, is plagued by guilt for her actions during WWII. She has "episodes" that land her in a straitjacket at Bellevue. Her supportive American husband, Aaron, believes that having a child is their duty to the future. Rachel's reasons for denying them this joy are always clear, thanks... Read More

SHADY HOLLOW

SHADY HOLLOW

Earphones Award Winner

by Juneau Black | Read by Cassandra Campbell

Random House Audio
Mystery & Suspense

In the first in the series described as "Agatha Christie meets Beatrix Potter," narrator Cassandra Campbell takes listeners on an unforgettable journey. The small village of Shady Hollow is upturned when Otto Stumpf, the loner toad, is murdered. Vera Vixen, a reporter, will not stop until the killer is found. Character personalities lean on animal stereotypes, and Campbell's... Read More

WAYS THE WORLD COULD END

WAYS THE WORLD COULD END

Earphones Award Winner

by Kim Hooper | Read by Stephanie Willing, Pete Cross

Dreamscape
Fiction

Narrators Stephanie Willing and Pete Cross transform themselves into a father-daughter duo who are searching for healing in a time of loss. Dave, who has Asperger's, and his 15-year-old daughter, Chloe, are meandering through their lives without their late wife/mother, Jana. As Dave reminisces about his life, Chloe explores a new relationship with classmate Edie. Both Cross and... Read More

YINKA, WHERE IS YOUR HUZBAND?

YINKA, WHERE IS YOUR HUZBAND?

Earphones Award Winner

by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn | Read by Ronke Adékoluejo

Penguin Audio
Fiction

Narrator Ronke Adékoluejo masterfully creates a British-Nigerian community and its delightful inhabitants, especially 31-year-old Oxford-educated banker Yinka Oladeji. Listeners learn that Yinka is frustrated because her younger sister is married and pregnant, while Yinka is still saving herself for marriage and looking for a man who will appreciate her. Adékoluejo skillfully... Read More

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