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Extended Audio Sample A Death in the Family, by James Agee Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,830 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Agee Narrator: Lloyd James Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Decades after its original publication, James Agee’s last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. For in his lyrical, sorrowful account of a man’s death and its impact on his family, Agee painstakingly created a small world of domestic happiness and then showed how quickly and casually it could be destroyed.

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay’s wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The work of a writer whose power with English words can make you gasp.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Maturely and masterfully, Agee accomplished a book which touches one deeply and which no reader will forget.”

    New York Herald Tribune Book Review

  • “Wonderfully alive.”

    New Yorker

  • “People I know who read A Death in the Family forty years ago still talk about it. So do I. It is a great book.”

    Andre Dubus II, author of Dancing after Hours

  • “[James Agee’s words] are so indelibly etched someplace inside of me that I couldn’t reach to rub them out even if I wanted to. And I never want to.”

    Steve Earle, author of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive

  • “Agee’s forgiving embrace of the deeply imperfect people he describes, a kind of Whitmanesque tenderness, stays with you a long time.”


  • “It is, in the full sense, poetry…The language of the book, at once luminous and discreet…remains in the mind.”

    New Republic

  • Winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • A 2013 Audie Award Finalist for Classics
  • One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by doug bowman | 2/18/2014

    " This book was such a pure revelation that I spent two or three years writing terribly mundane stories fashioned in Agee's style. He writes so densely about the sheer simplicity of life, glorying in the joys of the ordinary while exposing the fleeting nature of constructions people build. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lou | 2/14/2014

    " One of the small pile of books I read every few years. Stuns me every time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by C | 2/8/2014

    " I'll give it four stars just because the first 100 pages are so beautiful. The end is sort of a letdown. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Susie | 1/29/2014

    " What a wonderful and heart-wrenching story. Agee's effortless blending of perspective works brilliantly to create a story more about the depth or our souls, our needs, and perceptions than about the events of life themselves. How painful to encounter Rufus' pride and naivete; how human to witness Aunt Hannah, Uncle Andrew, and Mary's struggle with faith; how pathetic to wrestle with Ralph's self-recriminations. I love also, how Agee does not leave us ever hopeless; in the midst of rejection there are also solid moments of love. In the midst of religion there are moments true faith. Beautiful. "

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