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Extended Audio Sample A Death in the Family Audiobook, 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: November 2011 ISBN: 9781470804084
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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.”

    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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lostinanovel | 1/23/2014

    " A man's memoir of his boyhood experience of his father's death. Expands some, to include the experiences of his mother, alcoholic uncle and younger sister. Beautiful language. Did leave me wanting to learn more. Its a little slow in that there is really no "action" but for anyone who has experienced someone's premature death, the detail is accurate. Especially enjoyed the scene where the affected family have a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Very real how humans will do that. Also enjoyed the details on life in the early 1900s, yet the human experience I think would still be much the same. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cassandra McCall | 1/21/2014

    " This story deals with the aftermath of the tragic accident. It is beautifully written, with a lovely cadence. It deals with the accident death of the father of a young family. You know, something that does not freak me out at all. So, yeah, I cried. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Day Lee | 1/9/2014

    " This is the second best book I've read this year. The first was Sophie's Choice .read 2012 "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa410 | 1/9/2014

    " Loved this book! Read it on a plane that had minor problems (not a good idea). I cried. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 dead letter office | 1/8/2014

    " nobody writes books like this anymore. slow and careful and sad and warm. it's a great book about an ordinary tragedy, and (with so long, see you tomorrow) one of my two favorite books about the american suburbs in the 1920's. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Romy | 1/8/2014

    " Boring, couldn't get into it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kat | 12/14/2013

    " Read it a few years ago, but still remember it fondly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 June | 10/22/2013

    " Lyrical and lovely and thoughtful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christiane | 10/1/2013

    " Without a doubt, the most beautiful book I've ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paige Pell | 9/22/2013

    " This book grew on me as I read it. The voices of the children as they move through this life-altering event are fascinating. Agee clearly is questioning the role of religion in our lives but leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca White | 10/21/2012

    " Another book for those who love the beauty in language. Also great for how it shows individuals handling the aftermath of tragedy - manages to be inside so many people at once. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zandree | 7/24/2012

    " Interesting exploration of death, family, and manhood from the perspective of a child. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linnea | 5/20/2012

    " One of the saddest, most beautifully written books I have ever read. I don't remember the last time I actually read a book while weeping. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maya Archer-doyle | 3/7/2012

    " God, this was soooooo beautiful. ugh! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve Shilstone | 2/7/2012

    " This guy really knew how to select words and place them in sequence. "

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About the Author
Author James Agee

James Agee (1909–1955) worked as a reporter and critic for FortuneTime, and other magazines and wrote for film and television. He is the author of a number of works of both fiction and nonfiction, including the novels The Morning Watch and A Death in the Family, which won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

About the Narrator

Lloyd James (a.k.a. Sean Pratt) has been narrating since 1996 and has recorded over six hundred audiobooks. He is a seven-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award and has twice been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. His critically acclaimed performances include Elvis in the Morning by William F. Buckley Jr. and Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin, among others.