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Extended Audio Sample Ship of Fools, by Katherine Anne Porter Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (890 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Katherine Anne Porter Narrator: Grace Conlin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the summer of 1931, a cruise ship sails from Mexico on its way to Bremerhaven, Germany. Among its many diverse passengers are a Spanish noblewoman, a drunken German lawyer, an American divorcée, a pair of Mexican Catholic priests, a number of Germans returning to their homeland from Mexico, and a corrupt, avaricious company of Spanish singers and dancers who scheme to defraud the other passengers of their money. In the mingling and meeting of these varied personalities on board the ship of fools, a drama of good and evil takes place from which no one will emerge unchanged. Rich in incident, passion, and treachery, the novel’s themes of nationalism, cultural and ethnic pride, and basic human frailty are as relevant today as they were when the novel first appeared in 1945.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This vivid, beautifully written story is bathed in intelligence and humor.”

    New York Herald Tribune

  • “A creative feat…Ship of Fools not only crowns Miss Porter’s notable career but takes and should hold an eminent place among contemporary novels.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A phenomenal, rich, and delectable book.”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “A masterpiece.”


  • “Katherine Anne Porter moves in the illustrious company headed by Hawthorne, Flaubert, and Henry James”

    Saturday Review

  • “Porter’s passengers are extremely diverse in nationality, age, class, education and experience. Grace Conlin does a splendid job portraying them.”


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Marc | 2/20/2014

    " How Porter avoided suicide is beyond me. Her picture of the human race is devastatingly and bleakly accurate. As you read you begin to say, "Yes, people do behave this way." The descriptions of German paranoia on the cusp of Germany's downhill slide into Nazism are perfect. It has been a dream of mine to take a trans-Atlantic cruise to Europe. After reading this book I still would like to take that trip but would be sure to have plenty of writing material and a tape recorder with me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gregory | 2/16/2014

    " Porter is a satirist at heart here, and while her characters are colorful, there's not much of a plot, other than the construct of a voyage. At 500+ pages I wanted to disemark as much as the rest of the passengers, and found myself wondering if that's what she intended, in part. At any rate, read her short stories instead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Steven | 1/25/2014

    " This is a leisurely paced and highly engaging panorama of humanity by a writer with a gift for creating subtle, picturesque prose and beguiling characters. Porter presents a microcosm of the human comedy in this account of the passengers aboard a ship headed from Mexico to Germany in 1931 whose lives become intertwined in various ways during the voyage, sometimes comically, sometimes heroically, sometimes tragically. She wrote it well after World War II, and infuses the story with a poignant sense of doom and ironic hindsight as the characters seem oblivious to the horrors we know they will confront in the very near future after they land. The cast represents a diverse array of nationalities and religions, and includes people exhibiting varying degrees of prejudice and moral fiber. Porter focuses her intelligent and keen eye on the best and the worst qualities of humankind, and honestly portrays them in all their glory and loathsomeness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Melanie | 1/19/2014

    " I liked it because I like stories about sea voyages, but not a very happy book. "

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About the Author
Author Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter (1890--1980) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and political activist. She pulled herself up from a life of hardship, dislocation, and severe loss in rural Texas to become a major American author and one of the most compelling literary figures of the twentieth century. Her first and only novel, Ship of Fools, was published in 1962 and became the bestselling novel in America that year, bringing her national literary fame. In 1967 she was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction.