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December 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.


THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2019
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Neil Gaiman asserted that "short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams." This collection of "tiny windows," performed by narrators as diverse and vivid as the stories themselves, provides glimpses of worlds, minds, and dreams that are tragic, wistful, disturbing, and thought-provoking. The variety of content will entice a wide audience,... Read More

THE BOOK OF LOST SAINTS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Sofia Quintero's performance of this audiobook is compelling. Listeners are drawn into her first-person portrayal of Marisol, who encourages her nephew, Ramón, to solve a mystery with a twist: Marisol died during the Cuban Revolution, and Ramón is living in present-day New Jersey. Listeners come to know Marisol's ghost, particularly her empathetic voice, which Quintero... Read More

CALL DOWN THE HAWK
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

The much anticipated spin-off series from The Raven Cycle creator does not disappoint. Beloved narrator Will Patton returns with his creepy, suspenseful, almost mournful tone to takes listeners on a wild ride of art forgers, dreamers, and dream hunters. This is the world of the Lynch brothers. Ronan is finding his way in the dream world, trying to master his dreams without... Read More

FREE LUNCH
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Ramón de Ocampo's use of accents and emotions adds much to Rex Ogle's middle school memoir. De Ocampo defines Rex's Latinx mother and her stuttering boyfriend with characteristic accents, but even more by their anger, which goes from mean to menacing. His little brother's innocent comments offer relief from the frequent tension in the story. De Ocampo excels at... Read More

GIRL
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Sheila Atim sets a sensitive yet emphatic tone for this harrowing story of violence, loss, and survival. She becomes Maryam, a Nigerian girl who is abducted by the infamous militant Boko Haram. Atim brings listeners to tears as we hear the many violations Maryam must endure--and then makes us hang on breathlessly to see whether her incredible bid for freedom will... Read More

GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Anna-Maria Nabirye's warm, rhythmic voice embraces listeners from the first rush of words in this Booker Award-winning kaleidoscope of a novel about a group of interconnected black women in England from the 1980s to today. A playwright for whom being black and lesbian is important; her straight daughter, who doesn't see what the fuss is; a friend who's jaded after... Read More

THE GOLDBLUM VARIATIONS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Jonathan Davis is a playful, velvety-toned guide for this fanciful collection of stories that imagine actor Jeff Goldblum in various adventures. Fans of Goldblum will laugh along as Davis takes us from an imagined cooking show to adventures on other planets. He embraces the satirical undercurrent laced throughout this volume, which enhances the listening experience.... Read More

HAZEL'S THEORY OF EVOLUTION
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Kathleen McInerney loses no time in transporting listeners into the complicated world of 13-year-old Hazel Brownlee-Wellington, who is navigating a momentous time in her life. Not only is she leaving her best friend due to school redistricting, but she also is facing the impending birth of a new sibling following two traumatic miscarriages. Also meriting her attention... Read More

INSIDE OUT
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Actor Demi Moore's well-known low, raspy timbre guides listeners through her turbulent life with her characteristic honesty. She takes listeners back to her childhood, when she overcame a debilitating illness that was the first of her many successes as a survivor. Moore has a well-established reputation for being a rebel as well as an iconoclast. Both of these identities come... Read More

KEEP IT MOVING
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp's optimism and practicality shine through in her engaging narration of this inspirational audiobook. Listeners will find themselves nodding along with her helpful anecdotes and pragmatic recommendations for a purposeful and rewarding approach to everyday life. While Tharp's phrasing can be slightly awkward, and her pacing halting, it is a... Read More

MARLEY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Yes, this Marley is THAT Marley. Dickens's perennial staple, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, gets a fascinating prequel with this audiobook, performed with a perfect blend of authenticity and over-the-top caricature by Matthew Lloyd Davies. While this portrait is rendered in darker tones, and Clinch's considerable authorial skill is uniquely his own, the Dickensian touches of quirky names,... Read More

MEDALLION STATUS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Boston-born, Yale-educated humorist/writer/actor John Hodgman has been blessed with a voice that makes him sound like a world-renowned authority and a nincompoop at the same time. It's a wonderful combination. In his fifth book, Hodgman takes on the dogged pursuit of airline bonus miles; the trappings of post-fame, when one isn't quite as recognizable as one once was; and the... Read More

MENTORS
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

British comic Russell Brand narrates this powerful combined memoir and personal growth lesson as if he were performing a one-man play. And yet, changing his intensity to emphasize an observation, or his pacing to share a quick aside, he sounds totally spontaneous and even intimate as he describes what he's learned about getting help from a mentor and serving as one. This is... Read More

A MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

From the beginning, narrators Brittany Pressley and Kyf Brewer are in full control of this audiobook with their talent and skill. Pressley portrays Atlee Pine, a troubled FBI agent whose idyllic childhood was interrupted by the kidnapping of her twin sister, Mercy. At the same time, a serial killer is on the loose with a bizarre modus operandi. Pressley and Kyf Brewer expertly... Read More

MOBITUARIES
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Author Mo Rocca's engaging narration makes it obvious that he is delightfully obsessed with underappreciated dead people--celebrities, politicians, and others whose lives he describes with a seemingly endless supply of interesting facts and observations. With a flinty-clear voice and colorful phrasing that is in a league with the best, his naturally enthusiastic performance... Read More

QUANTUM
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Thriller fans are in for a treat as narrator January LaVoy performs Patricia Cornwell's latest. It's the first adventure of Captain Calli Chase, a NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator who must puzzle through the clues that point to her missing identical sister, Carme. LaVoy delivers this heart-pounding story using a combination of emotionally even tones,... Read More

STILL HERE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Narrator Andrea Burns is amazing! Her performance of NEW YORK TIMES editor Jacobs's charming, well-researched look at the life of actor Elaine Stritch (19252014) is at once intelligent, amusing, and illuminating. In her seventy-year career, Stritch made her own rules, struggled with alcoholism, won awards, and knew many of the most famous authors, actors, and power brokers of... Read More

SUGGESTED READING
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Kyla Garcia imprints her style and charisma upon this audiobook with her creation of teen voices that young listeners will find unforgettable. Her rhythm, timing, and inflections are so finely tuned that each character is easily recognizable. Clara Evans discovers a list of "prohibited media" that was secretly removed from the school library because it would "interfere... Read More

A TALL HISTORY OF SUGAR
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

It is difficult to imagine that this extraordinary story could be even better, but Robin Miles's sublime narration accomplishes that feat. In 1958, just before Jamaica's independence, a childless couple adopts an abandoned infant and names him Moshe. His pale skin, mismatched- colored eyes, and hair brand him as unusual in his community, and his racial definition mirrors... Read More

TO THE LAND OF LONG LOST FRIENDS
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

How lovely to spend time again with Mma Precious Ramotswe, of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Thanks to the quiet performance of Lisette Lecat, series fans reconnect with a bevy of fully formed Botswana residents--from self-important detective-assistant Grace Makutsi to Mma Ramotswe's gentle husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, and part-time detective-assistant Charlie, who's... Read More

THE TOLL
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Greg Tremblay returns in the conclusion to the Arc of a Scythe series with his best performance yet. The Thunderhead now speaks only to Greyson Tolliver, leaving the rest of the world scrambling for guidance. Scythes Anastasia and Lucifer are fugitives, relentlessly pursued by Overblade Goddard. Tremblay's consistently unhurried pace eases the blows of Scythe violence... Read More

A WARNING
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Robert Fass narrates this audiobook with the eloquence and care of a veteran news anchor. Many Americans have concerns about the administration of Donald Trump, and this exposé by a "senior Trump administration official" will confirm their worst fears--and then some. Fass's steely delivery inspires belief in Anonymous's credibility as the author offers frightening revelations... Read More

WHAT MAKES US
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Graham Halstead soars as he uses his versatile voice to portray multiple characters in this poignant and sometimes painfully honest young adult novel. Halstead's talent is on full display as he delivers varied accents in a story about about culture, religion, and fear of the unknown. As the sins of the main character's extremist father surface, a Houston community... Read More

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