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In Paradise: A Novel Audiobook, by Peter Matthiessen Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Matthiessen Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Penguin Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2014 ISBN: 9780698164918
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A profoundly searching new novel by a writer of incomparable range, power, and achievement. In the winter of 1996, more than a hundred women and men of diverse nationality, background, and belief gather at the site of a former concentration camp for an unprecedented purpose: a weeklong retreat during which they will offer prayer and witness at the crematoria and meditate in all weathers on the selection platform, while eating and sleeping in the quarters of the Nazi officers who, half a century before, sent more than a million Jews to their deaths. Clements Olin, an American academic of Polish descent, has come along, ostensibly to complete research on the death of a survivor, even as he questions what a non-Jew can contribute to the understanding of so monstrous a catastrophe. As the days pass, tensions, both political and personal, surface among the participants, stripping away any easy pretense to healing or closure. Finding himself in the grip of emotions and impulses of bewildering intensity, Olin is forced to abandon his observer’s role and to embrace a history his family has long suppressed—and with it the yearnings and contradictions of being fully alive. In Paradise is a brave and deeply thought-provoking novel by one of our most stunningly accomplished writers. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • In Paradise is a fitting final addition to Matthiessen’s oeuvre, in that it combines moral seriousness and imagination grounded in the world with elegance of expression and a willingness to take risk.”

    National Geographic

  • “Peter Matthiessen’s In Paradise is a deeply intelligent study of Holocaust remembrance…bleakly funny [and] eloquent.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A fitting coda to [Matthiessen’s] career…Where better to look for some sort of human essence than in a landscape that embodies us at our worst?…This is the key message of Matthiessen’s life and writing—that we are intricate, thorny, inconsistent, that the lines between good and bad blur within us, that we are capable of anything. The only choice is to remain conscious, to engage with openness.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Matthiessen’s descriptions are poetic and scarifying…He creates indelible vignettes about what remains and what took place here. Like the rest of Matthiessen’s vast body of work, In Paradise leads us into questions that define our most profound mysteries.”

    Washington Post

  • “The conflict between the drama of the self and its surrender in the shadow of the Holocaust is Matthiessen’s bold subject…Powerful.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “A novel that is as profound as anything that Matthiessen has written before.”, editorial review

  • “[In Paradise]…provides rare insight into the dark magnetism of a brutal landmark. What drives a survivor to return? What inspires conflicted visitors to join hands in spontaneous dancing? Matthiessen’s courage and clarity in addressing this topic [were] signal virtues of his career.”


  • “The beauty of [In Paradise] comes in [Matthiessen’s] powerful descriptions. With his command of the language, he can add something new and profound to that vast library of Holocaust literature. In Paradise allows Peter Matthiessen to once again demonstrate that he remains one of our most powerful writers.”

    Miami Herald

  • “An earnest, informed, often insightful and…subtle novel.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Not a mere recounting but a persuasive meditation on Auschwitz’s history and mythology, this novel from three-time National Book Award–winner Matthiessen uses scenes of confrontation, recollection, bitterness, and self-examination to trace aspects of culture that led to the Holocaust and that still reverberate today.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “What makes Matthiessen’s latest stand out from the scores of other Holocaust books is that Olin, a non-Jewish academic of Polish descent, is aware of the vast Holocaust literature—and feels self-doubt to the point of defeat about what he’s doing in Auschwitz in the first place.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Matthiessen…ponders Auschwitz decades after the Holocaust, in a novel that’s philosophical, mordant, and surprisingly romantic…An admirable…study of the meaning of survivorship.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Mattheissen’s last novel may not be his best, but in this audio production Mark Bramhall’s remarkable voice brings beauty, intensity, and emotion to a provocative novel of ideas. Only a superb actor could do justice to the central event, an international interfaith meditation retreat at and about Auschwitz. There is not so much a plot as an ongoing spiritual debate among Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, and Jews about guilt, suffering, and survival, with some story threads woven through, but Bramhall keeps listeners engaged with the conflicted protagonist, an American academic of Polish extraction, and makes those around him into vivid (if sometimes unpleasant) people. Bramhall’s skill and gorgeous timbre do more than justice to Matthiessen’s grand ideas, and to the humanity of his goals. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, April 2014
  • One of Barnes & Noble's Biggest Books, April 2014
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly bestseller
  • An NPR bestseller
  • A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for April 2014
  • A BookPage Best Book of 2014

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About the Author

Peter Matthiessen (1927–2014) was the author of more than thirty books, including the New York Times bestseller The Snow Leopard. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1974. He was cofounder of the Paris Review and won two National Book Awards, the 2000 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, and the 2010 Spiros Vergos Prize for Freedom of Expression.

About the Narrator

Mark Bramhall has won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration, more than thirty AudioFile Earphones Awards, and has repeatedly been named by AudioFile magazine and Publishers Weekly among their “Best Voices of the Year.” He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.