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Fortune Smiles: Stories! by Adam Johnson [in Library Journal]

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson on BookDragon via Library Journal*STARRED REVIEW
To bring Adam Johnson’s six stories – which together won the 2015 National Book Award for fiction – to waiting ears takes a village of seasoned narrators.

In “Nirvana,” Jonathan McClain deftly voices a desperate husband who uses technology to soothe his ill wife. Dominic Hoffman – his narration resonating and growling both – reads “Hurricanes Anonymous,” about a man’s post-Katrina search for his son’s mother. Cassandra Campbell, the collection’s only woman, matter-of-factly brings a dead wife to life in “Interesting Facts.”

W. Morgan Sheppard is chillingly delusional as a former Stasi prison warden in “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine.” The pedophile in “Dark Meadow” gets a convincing chance in Will Damron’s detached recitation. Greg Chun reads the titular standout, “Fortune Smiles,” moving with staccato force between two North Korean defectors trying comically, desperately, incongruously to adjust to their new lives in Seoul.

As diverse as the characters and settings are throughout Johnson’s lauded latest, so, too, are the narrators individually distinctive – and definitively seasoned (Chun, the only audiobook newbie, is a commercial and animation voice-over veteran).

Disturbing, riveting, devastating, raw, the collective result is a literary and aural revelation.

Review: “Audio,” Library Journal, April 15, 2016

Published: 2015

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