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Extended Audio Sample Benediction, by Kent Haruf Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,335 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kent Haruf Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the beloved and bestselling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death and the ties that bind, once again set on the high plains in Holt, Colorado.

When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them.

Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death.

Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning.

And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad, and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way.

Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering, and above all the humanity of its inhabitants.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Haruf is the master of what one of his characters calls ‘the precious ordinary’…With understated language and startling emotional insight, he makes you feel awe at even the most basic of human gestures.”


  • Benediction suggests there’s no end to the stories Haruf can tell about Holt or to the tough, gorgeous language he can summon in the process.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • In Benediction, as in his previous four novels…it’s the restraint of Haruf’s storytelling that provides its power and its grace. 

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “Haruf writes with a tense, quiet realism that elevates life and death, granting both a dignity that touches on poetry.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “He produces the kind of scenes that Hemingway might have written had he survived the ravages of depression.”

    Washington Post

  • “Haruf’s finest-tuned tale yet.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Grace and restraint are abiding virtues in Haruf’s fiction, and they resume their place of privilege in his new work…For readers looking for the rewards of an intimate, meditative story, [Benediction] is indeed a blessing.” 

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Perhaps not since Hemingway has an American author triggered such reader empathy with so little reliance on the subjectivity of his characters…[This] is a modestly wrought wonder from one of our finest living writers.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Remarkable…Haruf paints indelible portraits of drifting days that reveal unexpected blessings.”

    Miami Herald

  • “A lovely book, surprisingly rich in character and event without any sense of being crowded…Haruf is a master in summing up the drama that already exists in life, if you just pay attention.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “His sentences have the elegance of Hemingway’s early work [and his] determined realism, which admits that not all of our past actions or the reasons behind them are knowable, even to ourselves, is one of the book’s satisfactions.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “Heartbreakingly authentic.”


  • “Splendid…As the expertly crafted structure of Benediction emerges, it becomes clear that [Haruf’s many] characters trace the arc of a life.”

    Portland Press Herald

  • “Haruf’s great skill is in describing the plain ways of people who live in small places [and the war] going on between good and evil that we recognize as part of our nature. This is what makes Benediction a universal story, not a hometown tale.”

    Buffalo News

  • “Both sad and surprisingly uplifting in its honest and skillful examination of death, families and friendship.” 

    Deseret News

  • “Separately and together, all the characters are trying to live—and in Dad’s case, to die—with dignity, a struggle Haruf renders with delicacy and skill.”

    Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

  • “Haruf captures the sadness and hardship, the joys and triumphs behind the lives of ordinary people. Benediction has an understated Our Town quality that’s all the more powerful in the hands of this master storyteller. This is exceptional fiction not to be missed.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Haruf isn’t interested in the trendy or urban; as he once said, he writes about ‘regular, ordinary, sort of elemental’ characters, who speak simply and often don’t speak much at all. ‘Regular and ordinary’ can equate with dull. However, though this is a quiet book, it’s not a boring one. Dad and his family and neighbors try, in small, believable ways, to make peace with those they live among, to understand a world that isn’t the one in which they came of age. Separately and together, all the characters are trying to live—and in Dad’s case, to die—with dignity, a struggle Haruf renders with delicacy and skill.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Mark Bramhall gives an emotional performance of this melancholy slice of life in a small town. Author Kent Haruf once again focuses on various characters who live in the town of Holt, Colorado. Bramhall will have listeners in tears, yet uplifted, as he voices Dad Lewis, an elderly man who is dying of cancer with dignity and just a few regrets. Other characters revolving around Dad’s end-of-life experience are portrayed with vulnerability and grace as they deal with situations of their own. Bramhall lets the characters’ stories unfold slowly, lingering over the details that capture the essence of life in a small town, as well as the sorrow of bereavement. Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2013
  • Selected for the March 2013 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013 in Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Notty | 2/17/2014

    " Oh my goodness! Started it yesterday and just finished it! Used a little Kleenex while reading! Very, very different, but an awesome read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sue | 2/16/2014

    " A perfect lovely story. The main character, Dad Lewis, has been told he is dying from cancer and does not have long to live. This is an uplifting book because of the neighbors, friends, and family whose lives he touched and decisions he made on their behalf. A benediction is something that "promotes goodness and well-being". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Mary | 2/8/2014

    " Everyone seems desolate and unhappy and dissatisfied but in this kind of accepting, inevitable way. The characters all seem to have the same calm, unemotional, removed approach to life. Even though the notion of a blessing or recognize your blessings is clearly present in the text, I couldn't get past the lack of variability in the characters. It felt too artificial "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Tracy | 2/8/2014

    " I always feel as though Kent Haruf has just finished telling me a story when I complete one of his books. Benediction is another beautiful story of the holy, ordinary lives of the people of Holt, CO. "

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