George Saunders on the Lincoln in the Bardo Audiobook

botFrom Books on Tape:

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. 

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 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_3Producer 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.”


2 Responses to George Saunders on the Lincoln in the Bardo Audiobook

  1. sfdi says:

    Thanks for this, have been messing with Audible and will order this as soon as I finish with Lin Manuel Miranda et al reading THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER.

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