The author says the wide range of voices evokes “the feeling I tried to evoke in the book: a sort of American chorale”
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: The acclaimed short story writer’s first full-length novel boasts a star-studded cast of 166 narrators.
Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Megan Mullally and Don Cheadle are among the celebrities who have all lent their voices to narrate the story, about Abraham Lincoln mourning his son Willie in a graveyard full of ghosts. Penguin Random House Audio is applying for a Guinness World Record for most individuals’ voices on a single audiobook.
“This was a really gratifying artistic venture — to have so many talented people give their time to my work like this,” Saunders emailed TIME. “I had approached Kelly Gildea, the producer, with high hopes but also (I can see in retrospect) with no idea of how much I was asking—the sheer amount of work and organization. But she agreed immediately and went to work on it: 166 different voices, one for every character in the book, no doubling, and the final cast included A-list Hollywood talent, amazing audiobook professionals, and (especially meaningful to me) a bunch of family members, close friends, and volunteers from Random House and ICM. I love the way that the variety of contemporary American voices mimics and underscores the feeling I tried to evoke in the book: a sort of American chorale.”
Highlights from the star-studded cast are below. The novel and audiobook will be available Feb. 14.
A dash of Hollywood came to Cedar Grove when actress Julianne Moore visited South End Elementary School to share her series of children’s books with local students.
Moore, an Academy Award-winning actress, visited Dec. 9 and read from her “Freckleface Strawberry” series to students in Grades K-2, and signed books for the kids.
Despite her celebrity stature, South End Media Specialist Tania Liddy said they approached Moore’s arrival with the focus on her career as an author.
“It tied in kind of nicely because this year we’re working on character education, and her books are all about differences in people and how you and your best friend can be different,” Liddy said. “[Moore] has red hair and freckles, so kids called her names. She talked about how she felt.”
The students prepared for Moore’s visit by all wearing red to go with the strawberry theme, decorating the hallways and display case with art from her books, and welcoming her with a sign outside the school.
Liddy said Moore was friendly and kind during her stay and showed her acting chops with an animated storytelling with different voices and gestures throughout.
Most of the students did not know Moore through her acting career, as most of her movies do not cater to their age group, noted South End Principal Lynn DiMatteo. Featured in movies such as “The Big Lebowski,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” and “Crazy Stupid Love,” Moore’s celebrity status was just an added bonus for the adults, DiMatteo said.
“We were a little starstruck. I’m not going to say we weren’t,” she acknowledged, noting how Moore’s arrival in the afternoon left a sense of anticipation through Friday morning.
When the students had the chance to ask Moore questions, almost all of them were about her writing rather than acting, DiMatteo said. The way the kids reacted was interesting to watch, she said.
“I turned to look at the faces of the students while she was reading because they were mesmerized,” the principal said. “Their eyes were on her and they were hanging on every word. She really captured them at that moment, without a doubt.”
During her 15 years in Cedar Grove, DiMatteo said she couldn’t remember a celebrity of Moore’s stature coming to town. She said it will be difficult to top for the next author visit.
Cedar Grove Board of Education Vice President Frank Mandala recalled the excitement about Moore’s visit when it was first announced at a South End FSA meeting.
“It was a huge thing,” Mandala said. “Like when they said her name they sort of did a drum roll thing, and I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s huge.’”
Julianne turns 56 today and we want to wish her the best of birthdays! We wish happiness, health, love!
xoxo Team Julianne Moore Source