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November 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.


BEWARE OF PITY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Nicholas Boulton's performance of the only full-length novel of the great Stefan Zweig is impeccable, impassioned, and moving. Zweig's storytelling here is old-fashioned, feeling almost Chekhovian at this remove. Set right before WWI, it's a domestic tragedy told in the shadow of the looming destruction of a world and about a young Austrian cavalry officer trying to behave... Read More

BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Homing in on the intensity of Attica Locke's plot, JD Jackson delivers a narration full of soul and heartache. Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, feels sorrow for both his race and his home state. He's dedicated to helping both yet unable to do much for either. Jackson's sensitivity to Mathews's conflicting emotions offers listeners a painfully intimate glimpse of the... Read More

BORED AND BRILLIANT
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Levity is mixed with earnestness as author and narrator Manoush Zomorodi sets forth the "Bored and Brilliant challenge," which encourages listeners to spark their creativity by detaching from their tech devices. In this spirited exploration of our relationship with technological devices, Zomorodi's melodic voice beckons and inspires listeners to develop a deeper understanding... Read More

DEAD SOULS
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

There are many voices, of many classes and temperaments, for Nicholas Boulton to portray in this audiobook. He meets the challenge with a wide range of British class and regional accents, along with character voices. More of a challenge is the range of moods, from comedy to near-tragedy, and the problematical text, which lacks an ending as well as several chunks toward the end.... Read More

DEAR MARTIN
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Dion Graham conveys Justyce McAllister's depth of character and inner conflict. The African-American honor student's life is changed when he is the victim of racial profiling, police brutality, and wrongful arrest. Graham at first registers Justyce's confusion and shock. With equal believability, Graham depicts Justyce's anger and trauma at experiencing racism at his... Read More

DON'T LET GO
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Steven Weber is an exceptional narrator. He adds tension, drama, and empathy to New Jersey detective Napoleon "Nap" Dumas's search for the truth about his twin brother's death and the disappearance of his high school girlfriend. The engaging characters and the tight plot with its many twists will intrigue listeners as Weber and Coben make their way to a surprise, maybe even... Read More

DRAGONSWORN
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Holter Graham pulls listeners back into the paranormal world of the Dark Hunters. The action begins immediately as the dragon, Falcyn, and the granddaughter of the Greek god Apollo, Medea, are swept into another dimension. Graham does an excellent job of creating unique voices for each character. He gives Falcyn a rich accent that flows over listeners' ears. Both... Read More

FIVE-CARAT SOUL
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

In this collection of previously unpublished short stories by the award-winning author of THE COLOR OF WATER, an outstanding team of narrators portrays a variety of characters. Novelist McBride peels back the thin veneer on American life with intellect, emotion, and, at times, stinging humor. Arthur Morey affects an anxious tone and a purposeful pace as he portrays an antique... Read More

FLUDD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Gordon Griffin, an entire acting company in one person, makes an audio romp of this early novel by the irreverent and very funny Hilary Mantel. In the 1950s, in benighted Fetherhoughton, on the edge of the moors, a Catholic priest has lost his faith, a fact he conceals because the priesthood is the only job he knows. Enter the sympathetic and mysterious Fludd. Is he the new... Read More

THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

While the author of the blockbuster Millennium series has changed, Simon Vance has been the consistent narrator of the audiobooks. Vance created the voices and masterfully embodies the personalities of the indomitable computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and the other characters whom listeners have followed through the series. We now find Lisbeth... Read More

GOOD BOOTY
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

How did the suggestive rhythm and blues phrase "good booty" morph into Little Richard's 1956 smash teenage anthem "Tutti Frutti," with its veiled and nonsensical innuendo? Combining a sly sense of humor, the energy of a true fan, and the all-in attitude of a seasoned journalist, narrator Teri Schnaubelt takes the listener back to early-nineteenth-century New Orleans. There a... Read More

A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Israeli stand-up comic Dov Greenstein's schtick involves hurling fast-paced insults at his audience in frenetic, hysterical tones. Joe Barrett transcends genre as he delivers a performance that is at once painful, annoying, revealing, heartbreaking, and completely riveting. Barrett is incredible as Dov's screaming and self-punishment peel layers from his life, making his... Read More

I CAN'T BREATHE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Police brutality against African-Americans is depressingly common, but the 2014 case of Eric Garner was in a class by itself. A cell phone video captured his dying gasps--"I can't breathe"--as he was trapped in a choke hold by a police officer. Narrator Dominic Hoffman's gravelly timbre and tough tone are an ideal fit for this outstanding piece of journalism. There is a lot of... Read More

LEONARDO DA VINCI
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Alfred Molina's narration is easy to follow as the author, drawing heavily on Leonardo da Vinci's journals, describes the painter's work as art built on a scaffold of science. He dissects several of da Vinci's paintings and drawings to show how the artist's insatiable curiosity manifested itself in his art and engineering. The author's sometimes detailed passages seem natural,... Read More

LOGICAL FAMILY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

In this terrific performance of his new memoir, the author of the famous--and famously gay--series Tales of the City tells us what growing up in 1950s North Carolina and finding new life in 1970s California was like. It was complicated, fascinating, heartrending, and, because it's Maupin telling the insightful story, it was often very funny. He reads in a light, pleasant voice... Read More

MANHATTAN BEACH
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A trio of narrators deftly weave their voices to bring to life the breathtaking story of Anna Kerrigan; her father, Eddie; and the gangster Dexter Styles. Heather Lind's voice matures as Anna grows from a curious child into an ambitious woman who is fighting to become a diver for the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII. Anna's anger over her abandonment by her father guides her to... Read More

THE MARRIAGE PACT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Tom Taylorson narrates this thriller with precision, helping listeners to be pulled into the story. Alice, a lawyer, and Jake, a marriage counselor, sign on to The Pact, a secret society of couples who are committed to ensuring that their marriages are happy. When Alice and Jake inadvertently break the rules, the consequences are dire--more dire than they ever expected.... Read More

THE MOTHER OF ALL QUESTIONS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Tanya Eby's careful diction and smooth delivery are ideal for Rebecca Solnit's powerful essays on feminism. Solnit simultaneously exhibits both anger and optimism about the world. Eby conveys the anger about the silencing of women through violence, fear, and rigid gender roles but sees hope in the "arrival of men (or something like that)" to the feminist movement.... Read More

MRS. OSMOND
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The famously convoluted narrative voice of Henry James sounds once again in John Banville's outstanding sequel to James's PORTRAIT OF A LADY. The work is brought to the audiobook format with equal expertise by narrator Amy Finegan. More tour de force than pastiche, Banville's story picks up the same cast and storyline as the original, and the same elegant nineteenth-century... Read More

MY LOVELY WIFE IN THE PSYCH WARD
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

In this audio memoir, Mark Lukach shares what it is like to watch his beautiful wife, Giulia, suddenly experience a psychotic break and be hospitalized against her will, and then take care of her when she comes home, including doling out medications and hiding the rest so that she can't act on her suicidal impulses. He is scared, shocked, mystified, helpless, and angry. It's... Read More

NEVERMOOR: THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Gemma Whelan provides listeners with an immersive experience of the wondrous world of Nevermoor. She ably presents the funny and enticing tale of a "cursed" girl who avoids meeting her doom by escaping to a world where she encounters strange and miraculous people, creatures, and events. But the threat of a dire destiny still looms. Whelan's clear English accent is... Read More

THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY: BBC RADIO CASEBOOK
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Opening with the joyous strains of Botswana children singing, this production never ceases to sound high-spirited and joyful. Voicing Detective Mma Precious Ramotswe's lilting rhythms and down-to-earth observations, British theater stalwart Claire Benedict leads the expert cast in performing these first eight episodes of BBC Radio's 2004-2005 audio-theater adaptations, written... Read More

PATINA
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Heather Alicia Simms animates the complex character of Patina (Patty), the heroine of Jason Reynolds's second Track book. Simms depicts the overwhelmed feelings of a girl who has suffered much in her young life. Now that her beloved father has died, she must live with her aunt and uncle, helping to care for her younger sister while her diabetic mother recovers from an... Read More

A PERFECT SPY
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Taut, intricate, and urbane--this BBC/Scotland radio adaptation captures the sound and feel of the British-grey atmosphere and cold war imagery of John le Carré's 1986 masterwork. The story focuses on a spy who seems to be a friend and confidant to all who suddenly disappears. With a tone that moves between hope and a feeling of lost chances, British character actor Julian... Read More

THE RELUCTANT HIGHLANDER
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

New to audiobook narration, Mhairi Morrison uses her considerable talents to deliver this Scottish romance set in the 1430s. Sir Adham MacFinlagh and Lady Fiona Ormiston cross paths in the lowlands at the court of King James and Queen Joanna. A hurried marriage and a trip to the highlands results in a kidnapping, a rescue, and a deepening love between the young couple. Morrison... Read More

THE RULES OF MAGIC
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A prequel to PRACTICAL MAGIC, this audiobook, narrated by Marin Ireland, is an enchanting performance of a charming story. The Owens siblings grow up with odd and inexplicable restrictions from their mother. They cannot wear red shoes, walk in the moonlight, or fall in love (else their love will be cursed). When older, the three siblings journey to New York City to break the... Read More

THE SEA LION
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Mark Nelson narrates in a rich, upbeat voice as Pandora and the other members of the Lighthouse family welcome a young guest--a sea lion. When "Topper" is discovered sitting in a chair at the kitchen table one morning, amazement abounds. But it's not long before Topper is exploring the island with the children and, for his safety, learning to swim. Nelson maintains a leisurely... Read More

SECOND CHANCE GIRL
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Two sisters, Carol and Violet, find romance in the idyllic wedding town of Happily, Inc., California. Narrator Tanya Eby is a perfect fit for this quirky story, and her light, lilting voice invites smiles. When a giraffe in the road throws Violet and a British duke together, it's not surprising that he ends up her boyfriend. Eby's insouciant tone also plays up the humor caused... Read More

A SECRET HISTORY OF WITCHES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Five generations of a clan of witches, portrayed by narrator Polly Lee, flee persecution in Brittany for the unknown shores of the United Kingdom. The atmospheric opening scene, fraught with tension and determination, is captured perfectly by Lee's hushed voice and careful cadence, setting the emotional tone for what lies ahead. Each generation faces challenges inherent in... Read More

THE SHADOW IN THE GARDEN
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Expertly read by George Newbern, Atlas's history/memoir on the art of writing biography is a listener's treat. Atlas, the biographer of Delmore Schwartz and Saul Bellow, surveys the history of biography with an insider's eye and recounts his own career in what amounts to a fifty-year history of American literary life. Rich in anecdote, insight, and wit, this is one of those... Read More

SLEEPING BEAUTIES
Earphones Award Winner
Horror

Marin Ireland narrates this ambitious, unsettling collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen. Women all over the world are going to sleep and not waking up. Even weirder, they become shrouded in cocoons, and there are dire consequences to disturbing their slumber. The cause is unknown to all except, maybe, Eve Black, an otherworldly woman who appears in West Virginia... Read More

SOFIA KHAN IS NOT OBLIGED
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Rita Sharma is hilarious as Sofia Khan, a 20-something British-Pakistani woman who is unsuccessful in her search for love. Sharma sets a lively pace as she narrates the ups and downs of Sofia's search for a modern Muslim man. Sharma captures the British sensibilities of the younger generation and contrasts their crisp accents with the musical rhythms of the accented... Read More

THE TEMPLARS
Earphones Award Winner
History

You maybe haven't encountered Dan Jones, the TV documentary guide for "Secrets of Britain's Great Castles" and author of "The Hollow Crown." And THE TEMPLARS is only the second of his books that he's narrated. But his performance here confirms Jones's rising status as a popular historian: academic, British, and a wee bit droll, but always crisp and to the point and, above all... Read More

TROMBONE SHORTY
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Music featuring a single trombone precedes Dion Graham's narration of this picture-book autobiography by "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, a New Orleans native and Grammy Award-nominated musician. Then, the first words of the audiobook--"Where y'at?"--greet listeners with an energetic New Orleans welcome. Graham draws listeners of all ages into an experience that's lyrical in word,... Read More

THE UNQUIET GRAVE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A true-life murder trial in 1897 and the legend of the Greenbriar Ghost offer rich territory for Sharyn McCrumb. In interconnected stories, narrators Candace Thaxton and Roger Casey give McCrumb's compelling characters consistent, believable personalities. Casey's male characters are authentic, including attorney James Gardner. In the 1930s, Gardner, an elderly black man, was... Read More

VICTOR SHMUD, TOTAL EXPERT: LET'S DO A THING!
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Johnny Heller gives an out-of-this-world performance as the imaginative and intrepid Victor Shmud. Jim Benton, author of the Franny K. Stein and Dear Dumb Diary series, brings more outrageous fun with his new child protagonist, whom Heller entertainingly portrays with vivid animation. Heller combines childlike innocence and silliness with a debonair sophistication to convey... Read More

THE WAGES OF SIN
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Mary Jane Wells is just about perfect in this mystery set in Victorian-era Scotland. Former London debutante Sarah Gilchrist was raped, confined to a sanatorium for "promiscuity," and banished in disgrace. Upon moving to Edinburgh and attending medical school, Sarah endures the jibes of the male-dominated faculty and student body. She helps out at a clinic catering to... Read More

THE WAR I FINALLY WON
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Jayne Entwistle narrated Bradley's earlier book, THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE. Her narration of the sequel cements the books' connection. Entwistle recognizes the characters' complexities, particularly Ada's. Ada, the heroine, has survived living with a clubfoot and her Mam's cruelty--now comes her healing. Entwistle gives a layered portrayal of Ada's strength and distrust,... Read More

THE WESTERN STAR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator George Guidall continues his stellar delivery of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series. This installment involves shifts in time between Longmire's current concern, an old nemesis who about to be paroled, and his early years as a sheriff when he returned from the War in Vietnam. Guidall expertly carries listeners back and forth between 1972 and the present day,... Read More

WHAT HAPPENED
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Hillary Rodham Clinton's book is pure Hillary--forceful, inspiring, yet humble. No one could deliver her story as she herself does, and she does it brilliantly. How does one recover from a defeat that, by all accounts, should have been a victory? As she puts it, losing is one thing--but "losing a race you'd thought you'd win is devastating." She performs the work with dignity,... Read More

WHAT MOTIVATES GETTING THINGS DONE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Cynthia Farrell's experience portraying strong female characters gives her narration of this audiobook magnetic appeal and authority. She has a strong repertoire of subtle pitches and intense tones that showcase but never overshadow the author's arresting insights. Written by a psychoanalyst with a gift for teaching, the audiobook avoids pejorative takes on... Read More

WHY BUDDHISM IS TRUE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

With his pleasing voice tone and sensitivity to the author's intentions, Fred Sanders's gentle but compelling performance shows how an actor's skill can make a complex book a joy to hear. His lack of self-consciousness is perfect for the author's humble and personable writing. Wright is captivated by Buddhism's focus on meditation, disengagement from attachments, and honesty... Read More

WILD THINGS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Listeners with even a passing interest in children's literature will enjoy this audiobook. Bruce Handy, author and narrator, has a style that is conversational, erudite, and humorous. His audiobook features observations and background information on books by classic writers, including Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, and E.B. White. When he's quoting his subjects, he captures the... Read More

WISHTREE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

It's easy to suspend disbelief with Nancy Linari's animated reading of this story. She quickly engages listeners with the authoritative viewpoint of Red, an oak tree who knows the habits of the many animals she shelters. Linari is equally successful in voicing the tenderness Red has for the humans who hang wishes from her branches. Linari marks Red's concern when Muslims move... Read More

THE WIZARDS OF ONCE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

David Tennant's atmospheric narration reflects this dark and twisted tale. It's the story of Xar, son of the King of Wizards, who cannot even cast a spell. Also of Wish, a daughter of the queen of a warrior tribe that does not want magic in the land. But Wish has a magical object. Tennant creates a distinct voice for each of the characters. His reading of the witty dialogue and... Read More

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