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Extended Audio Sample Pym, by Mat Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,112 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mat Johnson Narrator: J. D. Jackson Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Pym was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Salon, National Post, and the A. V. Club.

Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes has just made a startling discovery: the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that confirms the reality of Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Determined to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes, Jaynes convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole, armed with little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes.

Thus begins an epic journey by an unlikely band of adventurers under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Relentlessly entertaining...It’s no easy task to balance social satire against life-threatening adventure, the allegory against the gory, but Johnson’s hand is steady and his ability to play against Poe’s text masterly. The book is polyphonous and incisive, an uproarious and hard-driving journey.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Pym reframes far more than Poe—it reframes everything American...No one today writes inside the brilliant black mind better.”

    Alice Randall, New York Times bestselling author of The Wind Done Gone

  • “Outrageously entertaining, [Pym] brilliantly reimagines and extends Edgar Allan Poe’s enigmatic and unsettling Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket...[A] seemingly effortless blend of the serious, comic, and fantastic.”

    Washington Post

  • “Riotous...Mr. Johnson knows plenty about the character types he skewers.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • "Screamingly funny.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Hilarious and provocative.”

    Rolling Stone

  • “Blisteringly funny.”


  • “Loony, disrespectful, and sharp, Johnson’s Pym is a welcome riff on the surrealistic shudder-fest that is Poe’s original.”


  • “Social criticism rubs shoulders with cutting satire in this high-concept adventure…[Pym] is caustically hilarious as it offers a memorable take on America's ‘racial pathology’ and ‘the whole ugly story of our world.’”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “An acutely humorous, very original story that will delight lovers of literature and fantasy alike.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A 2011 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Seattle Times Best Book for Fiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, March 2011
  • A 2011 Salon Magazine Best Book of the Year for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Seth | 2/20/2014

    " The beginning reminded me of parts of Whitehead's John Henry Days, in that it mined old material to find some new insights around race in the U.S. The end reminded me of parts of Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle but combined with the odd surreal elements of the Antarctica scenes from Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Kris | 2/19/2014

    " The author is trying to talk about racism and enslavement in a fantasy gone bizarre. Wish I had put it down after the first hour like I wanted to. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Nick | 2/11/2014

    " I debated adding a shelf labelled "Racism" because that is one of the recurring themes of this fascinating novel, one of three "sequels" to Poe's problematic "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym." Johnson uses the frame of Poe's novel to structure his consideration of whiteness, racism and slavery. I found it thoughtful, relevant and insightful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Caroline | 2/8/2014

    " The opening chapters set the bar very, very high - then absurdity strikes like a fever dream. "

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