Random Rounds Up 166 Voices for ‘Lincoln’

Lincoln in the Bardo, the first novel by National Book Award finalist George Saunders, who is best known for his short stories, features an unprecedented cast of 166 voices and is being released February 14 from Random House Audio. The book’s events unfold in a graveyard over the course of a single night, Feb. 22, 1862, as a grief-stricken Abraham Lincoln visits the crypt where his young son was just laid to rest. During those hours, Lincoln hears a chorus of voices, both living and dead.

The audiobook echoes the great diversity of voices featured in Saunders’s text, ranging from high to low diction and including such pieces as 19th-century love letters and obscene rants. Saunders is pleased with the audio production, telling his producers, “I love the idea that by casting actors and nonactors we were able to simulate that ‘I hear America singing’ notion.”

The star-studded primary cast includes actors Don Cheadle, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Susan Sarandon, and Patrick Wilson, as well as author and humorist David Sedaris, musician and songwriter Jeff Tweedy, and Saunders himself.

Rory Honors Joey at Thomas Nelson

In 2014, at the height of their success, Grammy-nominated husband-and-wife country and Christian musicians Rory and Joey Feek planned to take a year off to welcome the baby they were expecting and move into the slow lane for a while. Then their lives shifted dramatically. Rory and Joey’s daughter Indiana has Down syndrome, and shortly after her birth, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Joey died from her illness in March 2016.

But at the outset of the duo’s planned “gap year,” beginning in January 2014, Rory started chronicling their time together in his blog This Life I Live, capturing moments of sadness and joy in words, music, photos, and videos. Rory’s blog helped him follow his passion for writing, and in early February of last year, he found himself in meetings with Matt Baugher, senior v-p and publisher at W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson. Confident his late wife would have supported and encouraged it, Rory accepted Baugher’s offer of the opportunity to write a book about his life. The result is This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever. Rory narrated the audiobook version, which is set for release on February 14.

L.A. Theatre Works Stages ‘Seven’ for Audio

A performance of the documentary play Seven that was recorded in front of a live audience in late January by L.A. Theatre Works is slated for an April 15 release as an audiobook. Seven, a commission of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, was conceived by Carol Mack and cowritten with six other award-winning playwrights: Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz. Beginning in 2006, each playwright interviewed a female activist who fought to overcome adversity and effect real change in the lives of women, then created a monologue that illuminates her story. The project received additional grant money from the NEA and a development fellowship from Bard College. Since 2008 the play has been translated into 25 languages and performed around the globe.

In typical LATW fashion, actors from Hollywood and Broadway performed without sets or costumes. The audiobook cast included Shannon Holt, Jossara Jinaro, Alex Kingston, Emily Kuroda, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, Annet Mahendru and Sarah Shahi. According to Michele Cobb, LATW’s audio publishing director, the performance ended with photos from many of the women’s marches that took place worldwide on January 21, eliciting an emotional response from the audience.

Strathairn Aboard for Zinn’s ‘Moving Train’ at Tantor

Noted character actor David Strathairn reads You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, the memoir of Howard Zinn. In it, the late historian, playwright, and activist shares personal stories about his childhood in Brooklyn slums, his service as a WWII bombardier, his work as a college teacher, and his time as an activist in the civil rights movement. Strathairn is a good fit for the material; in 2009 he performed in The People Speak, a documentary film codirected by Zinn that aired on the History Channel that contains dramatic and musical depictions of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans. The film was adapted from Zinn’s classic 1980 book A People’s History of the United States. Tantor Audio will simultaneously release the audiobook and e-book of You Can’t Be Neutral on February 28.