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August 2019 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.


AKIN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Jason Culp's near-perfect narration of the new literary drama from the author of ROOM matches its emotional intensity. Two lost souls from distant branches of the same family tree are thrown together. Culp uses an edgy tone to express the frustration of set-in-his-ways 79-year-old retired professor Noah Selvaggio as his planned trip to the French Riviera is upended when he... Read More

AT HOME WITH MUHAMMAD ALI
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Kim Staunton's narration of this audio memoir is impressive. She delivers all the power of boxer and legendary public figure Muhammad Ali, as told by his daughter. Hana Ali's audiobook recounts her father's life, beginning with the love letters he wrote to his estranged wife. Listeners hear Hana's memories of a loving family man who was seeking a higher purpose, a man who... Read More

BETHLEHEM
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

This novel shifts in time from the steel-boom era of 1918 to 1962, offering the perfect stage for narrator Christina Delaine's voice, which can be smooth as dark chocolate or sharp as a razor. Her husband's position as head of Collier Steel requires that Joanna and their kids move to the Collier family mansion in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There, she will assist her... Read More

A BETTER MAN
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Robert Bathurst's intelligent narration captures every nuance, every emotion, and each of Louise Penny's subtle revelations about the unique, completely engaging residents of Three Pines. A woman is missing, her father is frantic, and her abusive husband is the prime suspect. Raging spring flooding threatens the village, and, on his first day back to work after his suspension... Read More

A BOY AND HIS DOG AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audiobook takes the form of a postapocalyptic journal written by a teenager named Griz, who lives on an island off Scotland. The cause of the apocalypse is not clear, but the human population has been decimated. The prose is spare--as is the narration. C.A. Fletcher doesn't try to embellish the adventures that are unemotionally set forth in Griz's journal. A thief has... Read More

CARNEGIE HILL
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Cassandra Campbell's extraordinary narration makes this audiobook a gripping listen. It's the story of the residents of a prestigious co-op building in the Carnegie Hill section of Manhattan. Thirty-something Penelope "Pepper" Bradford, an heiress, is engaged to Rick, a self-made wealth manager. When she joins the co-op board, Pepper becomes friendly with several neighbors,... Read More

CHANCES ARE...
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Fred Sanders is a master of pacing, easily carrying listeners through the many layers of this story of three college roommates reuniting for the first time since their 1971 graduation. Despite their different life choices and personalities, the men find their bonds are still tight and discover that none of them has ever forgotten their other best friend, a girl, who,... Read More

CONVICTION
Earphones Award Winner
History

This audiobook combines a superb performance with content so compelling that it becomes a must-listen. Narrator Ron Butler's perfect delivery allows listeners to stay focused on Thurgood Marshall's defense of Willie D. Lyons, an African-American wrongly convicted of a gruesome triple murder in Oklahoma in 1939. The authors chronicle the murder, the trial, and Marshall's... Read More

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF AIDA HERNANDEZ
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

This audiobook demonstrates that the national debate over immigration is nothing new. Listeners will be gripped by Frankie Corzo's narration of this biography of Aida Hernandez, who came to the U.S. in 1987 at the age of 8. Corzo captures the raw emotions that percolate throughout the audiobook and excels in moments of drama, such as when Aida is deported to Mexico. At its... Read More

DEEP RIVER
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Bronson Pinchot delivers this sprawling, incandescent historical novel. His performance gives the mostly immigrant Finns' lives veracity and dignity. The listener encounters the stresses, hardships, and majesty of these struggling new arrivals who live in Washington state near a river that has a strong presence in their lives. Pinchot's twin gifts--an extraordinary ear for... Read More

DELAYED RAYS OF A STAR
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Orlagh Cassidy delivers amazing performances of two women and gives full dimensions to the people in their orbits. Chinese-American Hollywood actress Anna May Wong attends the Berlin Press Ball in 1928, where she meets brash, beautiful German actress Marlene Dietrich and Nazi propagandist filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Cassidy provides a finely etched Wong, a superb... Read More

EACH TINY SPARK
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Author/narrator Pablo Cartaya easily transitions between English and Spanish, authentically representing the bilingual world of Cuban-American Emilia Rosa Torres, who has ADHD. Cartaya's emotional presentation allows listeners to feel Emilia's struggles when her stable homelife changes. Her mother travels for business, her father returns home from deployment, her abuela becomes... Read More

THE GIFTED SCHOOL
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A story featuring parents who are willing to do anything to have their children seen as gifted is hardly unique. But one that also makes the children heard and that is delivered by a narrator who is herself gifted in conveying those young voices--those attributes put THE GIFTED SCHOOL at the head of its class. Narrator January LaVoy clearly has a facility for voicing girls and... Read More

THE LAST WIDOW
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Kathleen Early returns to bring listeners another addition to Karin Slaughter's series featuring Georgia Bureau of Investigations agent Will Trent and his colleague and lover, Dr. Sara Linton. The story kicks off with the abduction of an infectious disease specialist from the CDC; then Sara is kidnapped by a group of domestic terrorists. Slaughter takes an innovative... Read More

THE MARYLEBONE DROP
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

The brevity of this elegant audiobook belies the size of its pleasures. It simultaneously manages to deliver just what we loved about le Carré and company--an insider's view of characters and events from the secret world of The Service--while doing a deadpan takeoff on Cold War spy novels. Here some old-timers are doing what they always did, but in a world that has moved on.... Read More

MIDDLE ENGLAND
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This novel explores racism, political correctness, the changing British economy, and the Brexit vote in Middle England. Thanks to the author's humor and empathy, combined with the charming narration of Rory Kinnear, the audio experience is absorbing and even joyful. Kinnear creates multiple distinctive characters, including Benjamin, semiretired, diffident, and still working on... Read More

MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Stephanie Willia, Bethany Lind, and Nicholas Techosky take turns narrating this mystical Southern novel. Techosky portrays a reporter who is sent to Alabama to interview locals about mysterious blackbirds. Willia and Lind take on the two female leads, Anna Kate and Natalie, who don't know their connection at the beginning. Through the Blackbird Cafe they uncover the tie that... Read More

THE NEW GIRL
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator George Guidall brings back the many characters we have come to know and appreciate in Silva's Gabriel Allon series. Once again, Silva leverages current headlines to engage listeners, this time taking them into the intrigues of the House of Saud and the political ramifications of shifting alliances within it. Gabriel Allon, now having two years under his belt as... Read More

ODDJOBS 2
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

An unusual comedy of the workplace, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, follows the Consular Mission as they try to keep the peace between Earth and a cabal of malicious Lovecraftian old gods. What follows is a strange, surreal, and zany series of misadventures with odd people and even odder creatures, including the hilariously evil Steve the Destroyer--a possessed doll. Davies's... Read More

OUR HARLEM
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Marcus Samuelsson narrates his incredible story of emigrating from Ethiopia, growing up in Sweden, and becoming a master chef and owner of the renowned Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem. Samuelsson and some guests take us by the ear into a seven-day experience of his kitchen as they prepare food and chat about life. In this audio original, the soundscapes of Harlem fill the... Read More

PAPER SON
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller masterfully voices New York Chinese and Mississippi Delta Chinese, as well as Southern black and Caucasian characters, in this long-awaited addition to the Lydia Chin and Bill Smith series. At her mother's insistence, P.I. Chin and her partner travel to the Mississippi Delta to establish the innocence of a cousin who is accused of having murdered his... Read More

THE PLUS ONE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Lauren Fortgang's wide range of voices perfectly portrays the formidable protagonist of this delightful story filled with thought-provoking insights on love and family. Desperate to placate her mother, who fears her daughter will be single forever, 29-year-old Kelly, an engineer, creates a robot named Ethan to accompany her to the upcoming wedding of her seemingly... Read More

THE PRIME MINISTER
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

David Shaw-Parker's usual exemplary narration brings all the inner torments of the characters in this classic novel to life. Trollope was one of the deep psychologists of the Victorian novel, and this is one of his most psychological works. Nearly all of the action is interior to the major characters. As we approach the end of the Palliser series, the parallel plots concern... Read More

THE PRINCESS TRAP
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Cornell Collins narrates a surprisingly sweet romance with charm and panache. When Cherry Neita is caught by a paparazzo in a compromising position with Ruben Helgmøre, an actual prince, the only way to save his reputation is to pretend to be his fiancée for a year. Collins does an excellent job portraying the subtle vocal variations Cherry uses to present herself to the world... Read More

THE QUEEN
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Identity theft takes on a new meaning in this mesmerizing biography/social study narrated by the adept January LaVoy. LaVoy, with her modulated, attentive tone, and author Levin, with his thorough research and clear writing style, both try to find the humanity in a woman who may have murdered three people, kidnapped and sold children, and defrauded public assistance programs.... Read More

RIVER OF FIRE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Helen Prejean's audiobook bubbles with levity, enthusiasm, and inspiration. In her soft Louisiana drawl, she describes her experiences while a novice with the Congregation of St. Joseph as a "boot camp for the Brides of Christ." By the time she was fully professed, Vatican II in 1962 had changed her life. She blossomed under the new church paradigm while remaining committed to... Read More

THE ROAD TO OXIANA
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

British narrator Barnaby Edwards captures pioneering travel writer Robert Byron's historical commentary, humor, and bon vivant sensibility while crossing the Middle East to explore the farthest reaches of Persia and Afghanistan in 1933-34. With the ability to evoke entire centuries and architectural styles in a single sentence, Byron is considered one of the masters of the... Read More

THE SCARLET LETTER
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

With a sympathetic, straightforward approach, narrator Adam Sims allows listeners to discover for themselves the many layers of keen observation, humor, history, and social commentary that Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 classic has to offer. The story is familiar. Single, dignified Hester Prynne is punished for having become pregnant by having an "A," for adultery, sewn on her... Read More

SEMICOLON
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

An audiobook devoted to the semicolon? Unlikely as that might sound, this little history of grammar's most misunderstood punctuation mark is, at just under four hours, brisk, lively, witty, and provocative; it is a genuine pleasure for the ear. Narrator Pam Ward is particularly skilled at rendering topics that might seem narrow, highly specialized, and intended only for a niche... Read More

THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Jayne Entwistle's flawless narration brings to life a small English village, the city of London, and the many memorable characters in this WWII novel. When bossy Mrs. Braithwaite is "fired" from her volunteer job, she decides to visit her daughter, Betty, who's doing war work in London. There, Betty's timid landlord, Mr. Norris, who is artfully portrayed, confesses that Betty... Read More

SPUTNIK'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Peter Capaldi's Scottish accent is so strong that American listeners may have trouble understanding him at first, but those who stick with it are in for a supersonic treat. Prez Mellows has been removed from the care of his senile grandad and is living in a temporary foster home when a space-traveling alien--in the form of a dog named Sputnik--shows up at his door.... Read More

THESE WITCHES DON'T BURN
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Kristen DiMercurio will keep listeners spellbound with her narration of this contemporary young adult fantasy. Hannah is a typical teenage witch living in Salem with her coven. While attending an end-of-the-year party, someone commits a forbidden blood ritual, and Hannah is left to uncover the mystery with her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, while trying to date someone new.... Read More

TIDELANDS
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

A new series from Philippa Gregory is always a chance to do a happy dance. Louise Brealey's exceptional narration gives this title the life it deserves. In 1648, after his defeat in England's Civil War, King Charles is exiled to the Isle of Wight. Superstition and religious persecution permeate the tiny town and desolate tidelands of the region. One of the inhabitants is wise... Read More

THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Sandy Rustin portrays the innocence of 11-year-old Lyndie B. Hawkins and her puzzlement over the adults in her life. Rustin vividly depicts Lyndie's memories of the idyllic life she once had with her father, a Vietnam vet, and her mother, a pacifist. Then the family moves in with her domineering grandmother, who is strongly portrayed by Rustin. Rustin emphasizes the... Read More

THE TURN OF THE KEY
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Imogen Church narrates Ruth Ware's unsettling update of Henry James's TURN OF THE SCREW. Nanny Rowan Caine arrives for her first day at what seems like a dream job to find that things are not as perfect as they first seemed. The house's "smart" system malfunctions in the middle of the night, and the children hate her for no apparent reason. Church ably handles the children's... Read More

WATERSHIP DOWN
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

Narrator Peter Capaldi's resonant voice is perfect for this rerelease of Adams's 1972 epic. Besides his natural Scottish accent, Capaldi crafts more than 20 distinctive voices for this story of a small group of rabbits who are fleeing an impending disaster. Hazel, the group's leader, sounds likable and capable--but without the machismo of Bigwig, the group's strongest defender.... Read More

WE ARE GRATEFUL: OTSALIHELIGA
Earphones Award Winner
Children

The sounds of crickets, a crackling campfire, and music greet listeners as five narrators share the meaning of the term "otsaliheliga," a Cherokee word meaning "We are grateful." Each narrator lends a unique voice to the story, complementing the diverse contemporary Cherokee families who are depicted celebrating every season. Cherokee pronunciations are beautifully delivered to... Read More

THE WORLD'S FASTEST MAN
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

David Sadzin offers a solid narration that reflects the author's straightforward style in this biography. Marshall "Major" Taylor was a professional bicycle racer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because he was black, he had to battle more than speedy competitors. While he fought bigotry both on and off the track throughout his career, racial prejudice... Read More

YOUR NEW MONEY STORY
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

Narrator Edward Bauer sounds like a friendly college instructor who wants to spare you the anguish you've had trying to get your financial life in order. He has a wonderful phrasing palette, smooth and natural sounding, and what stands out is how he finesses the author's desire to help: He's assertive enough with the direct advice and many lists offered by the... Read More

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