George Saunders’ ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ Tops 2018 Audie Awards for Random House

In News by Porter Anderson

Presented by the Audio Publishers Association in the US, the annual Audie Awards recognize strong industry performance in a wide range of categories and production aspects.

Image – iStockphoto: Davizro

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Our Flourishing Industry’

One of the speakers this week at the New York Rights Fair has been Storytel‘s Helena Gustafsson, who joined Publishing Perspectives on a panel at Klopotek’s Publishers’ Forum in April, and who will give as keynote address at the Frankfurter Buchmesse’s CONTEC Mexico later this month.

As we’ve reported, Storytel and other subscription services for audiobooks have encountered markets during its rollout from Stockholm, in which there’s a relative paucity of ready audiobook content for the Swedish subscription service.

But the shortlisted slate of finalists and generous industry interest in this year’s Audio Publishers Association 2018 Audie Awards points up the strong level of output in the English-language market in audio.

Indeed, the evening, hosted by narrator Simon Vance, was buoyed by the news from the Association of American Publishers that in the first quarter of this year, downloaded audiobooks were the format leader, up a head-turning 32.1 percent. Our coverage of the AAP’s Statshot report is here.

Announced Thursday evening (May 31) at a ceremony at the New York Historical Society, these awards are drawn from entries made by publishers. Finalists are selected by “a diverse group of experienced judges.” In each category there were five or six candidates, and Publishing Perspectives reported on the entire shortlist here.

In honoring the Audiobook of the Year winner—the Random House Audio production of George Saunders’ Man Booker Prize for Fiction winner Lincoln in the Bardo—the jurors’ rationale praises the audiobook’s “record-breaking cast of 166 voices, showcasing celebrity voices including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and author George Saunders as well as expert audio narrators, notably Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne.

“This unique title provides an auditory experience unlike any other, with strong appeal to literary readers new to audiobooks, fans of the format captivated by stellar production qualities, and podcast listeners intrigued by the soundscape’s realization of Saunders’ unique authorial structure.”

And in a prepared statement on the awards, Audio Publishers Association Linda Lee is quoted, saying, “Each of the nominees and winners are to be commended for the tremendous contributions they have made to our flourishing industry and this special event is the perfect venue for us to show appreciation to each and every one of them.”

2018 Audie Awards Winners

Audiobook of the Year

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by George Saunders, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and 163 others, published by Random House Audio

Audio Drama

  • Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi by Paul McCusker, narrated by over 30 actors including Joseph Timms, Owen Teale, and Geoffrey Palmer, published by Augustine Institute


  • Born to Run, written and narrated by Bruce Springsteen, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Best Female Narrator

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by HarperAudio

Best Male Narrator

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, written and narrated by Trevor Noah, published by Audible Studios

Business/Personal Development

  • Peak Performance by Brad Stullberg and Steve Magness, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing


  • Claim & Protect by Rhenna Morgan, narrated by John Lane, published by Harlequin Audio

Excellence in Design

  • In Death Limited Collector’s Edition by J.D. Robb, design by Carissa Dreese, Brilliance Publishing

Excellence in Marketing

  • “Transform Your Commute” Campaign, Penguin Random House Audio

Excellence in Production

  • Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and Stephen Fry, read by Stephen Fry, Audible Studios


  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading, published by Simon & Schuster Audio


  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, narrated by Cathleen McCarron, published by Penguin Audio


  • Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell, narrated by Adenrele Ojo and MacLeod Andrews, published by Dreamscape Media


  • Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Inspirational/Faith-Based Fiction

  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, narrated by Nancy Peterson, published by Two Words Publishing | Tyndale House (print publisher)

Inspirational/Faith-Based Nonfiction

  • Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace by Kim Phuc Phan Thi, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, published by HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Literary Fiction and Classics

  • House of Names by Colm Toibin, narrated by Juliet Stevenson, et al., published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Middle Grade

  • See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, narrated by Kivlighan de Montebello and a full cast, published by Listening Library 

Multi-Voiced Performance

  • Restart by Gordon Korman, narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross, Laura Knight Keating, Ramon de Ocampo, Andy Paris, Suzy Jackson, Graham Halstead, and John Kroft, published by Recorded Books


  • The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Random House Audio

Narration by the Author or Authors

  • Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, published by HarperAudio


  • American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee, narrated by Mark Bramhall, published by Random House Audio

Original Work

  • Romeo and Juliet: A Novel by David Hewson, narrated by Richard Armitage, published by Audible Studios


  • Curse on the Land: Soulwood, Book 2 by Faith Hunter, narrated by Khristine Hvam, published by Audible Studios


  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, narrated by Mary Jane Wells, published by HarperAudio

Science Fiction

  • Provenance by Ann Leckie, narrated by Adjoa Andoh, published by Hachette Audio

Short Stories/Collections

  • The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo, narrated by Lauren Fortgang, published by Audible Studios


  • The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini and Graham Winton, published by Recorded Books

Young Adult

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by HarperAudio

Young Listeners (up to age 8)

  • Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, narrated by Dion Graham, published by Live Oak Media

More of Publishing Perspectives’ coverage of audiobooks is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.