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In The Studio, New Releases, Video Hear George Saunders’ incredible first novel on audiobook, read by a star-studded cast of 166 narrators

Listeners know George Saunders from his previous bestselling and critically acclaimed short story collections, including National Book Award finalist Tenth of December, read by the Author. Now, in his highly-anticipated first novel LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, Saunders tells an incredibly entertaining story, masterfully blending historical fact with inventive fiction. Step into the studio with Saunders and producer Kelly Gildea to learn more about the “jaw-droppingly good” audio production of LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, read by the Author, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller, and many more. View the incredible full cast list below.

Saunders based his tale on the true story of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie at the dawn of the Civil War. Two nights after his death, Abraham Lincoln visited his son in the cemetery. Set over the course of that one night, Saunders brings the cemetery’s many ghosts alive to tell a moving and thought-provoking story about the meaning of life, death, grief, and the powers of good and evil. These ghostly voices are brought to life on audio by a cast of 166 narrators, including Academy Award winning actors, musicians, Penguin Random House employees, and Saunders’ own family and friends.

Saunders shares more about the incredible production process in this behind-the-scenes video, first revealed by TIME.com. Saunders explains how producer Kelly Gildea rose to the challenge of capturing 166 unique voices in one audiobook and how the audio medium truly captures the diversity of American voices he portrays in this story:

George Saunders and producer Kelly Gildea

George Saunders and producer Kelly Gildea

Producer Kelly Gildea masterminded this unique production, featuring 166 narrators recorded at 17 different studios—a recording-breaking number of narrators for Penguin Random House Audio. It was also submitted for a Guinness World Record for most individual voices on a single audiobook!

Kelly says, “This audiobook started as a conversation between me and George Saunders where he asked, ‘I don’t have to narrate this whole thing myself, do I?’ and I thought, ‘Why is he asking that?’ I peeked at the manuscript, which is structured (somewhat) like a play, and thought, ‘How the hell are we going to do this?’

The idea for using a different voice for each character was tossed out casually at first, then explored, and then became something we couldn’t turn away from. Now, listening to it, I don’t know any other way I’d do it. George’s panoply of voices is fully represented in the richness of our audio. We had Nick Offerman and David Sedaris on board fairly quickly in the process, and the other parts filled in rapidly. Luckily, most everyone who’s read him is in love with George, and many people volunteered their time and considerable talents to contribute to this production.

It’s a unique structure, and a blast to listen to. Be prepared to experience a wide range of emotions as George’s writing walks a perfect line between poignancy and humor.”

Kelly and George share more about the making of the audiobook in this incredible interview with BookRiot.

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders
read by a Full Cast

LISTEN TO A CLIP:

Media buzz is building for this extraordinary audio:
“LINCOLN IN THE BARDO is such a special audiobook, unlike any other I’ve heard…I love it to bits. No book has ever made me weep (or laugh) so openly.”—BookRiot

“Audiobooks have been called the fastest-growing format in publishing, and George Saunders’ LINCOLN IN THE BARDO seems to be the largest-growing novel among audiobooks.” —TIME.com

“LINCOLN IN THE BARDO is a postmodern masterpiece…The audiobook is another marvel…Like the novel, the audiobook breaks new ground in what can be accomplished through a story. It helps that there’s not a single bad note in the cast of a whopping 166 people. It’s also the rare phenomenon of an audiobook being a completely different experience compared to the novel. Even if you’ve read the novel, the audiobook is worth a listen (and vice versa). The whole project pushes the narrative form forward.”—A.V. Club

“The audiobook, with its star-studded cast, seems primed to join the ranks of the those that are works of art in and of themselves—like Jim Dale’s reading of the Harry Potter series.”—LitHub

“With 166 voice actors, listening to the LINCOLN IN THE BARDO audiobook is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget. In fact, the title seems destined for the Audie Award runnings this year.”—Bustle.com

The primary cast includes, in order of their appearance:

Nick Offerman as HANS VOLLMAN
David Sedaris as ROGER BEVINS III
Carrie Brownstein as ISABELLE PERKINS
George Saunders as THE REVEREND EVERLY THOMAS
Miranda July as MRS. ELIZABETH CRAWFORD
Lena Dunham as ELISE TRAYNOR
Ben Stiller as JACK MANDERS
Julianne Moore as JANE ELLIS
Susan Sarandon as MRS. ABIGAIL BLASS
Bradley Whitford as LT. CECIL STONE
Bill Hader as EDDIE BARON
Megan Mullally as BETSY BARON
Rainn Wilson as PERCIVAL “DASH” COLLIER
Jeff Tweedy as CAPTAIN WILLIAM PRINCE
Kat Dennings as MISS TAMARA DOOLITTLE
Jeffrey Tambor as PROFESSOR EDMUND BLOOMER
Mike O’Brien as LAWRENCE T. DECROIX
Keegan-Michael Key as ELSON FARWELL
Don Cheadle as THOMAS HAVENS
and
Patrick Wilson as STANLEY “PERFESSER” LIPPERT
with
Kirby Heyborne as WILLIE LINCOLN,
Mary Karr as MRS. ROSE MILLAND,
and Cassandra Campbell as Your Narrator
See the full cast list here.

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