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Download The Pearl Diver Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Pearl Diver Audiobook, by Jeff Talarigo Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (842 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeff Talarigo Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2003 ISBN: 9781436172493
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This lyrical novel sweeps listeners away to an ignoble period from Japanese history, when lives were shattered by intolerance—and for one group of societal outcasts, survival hinged on the determination of the human spirit. In 1948, a 19-year-old pearl diver with leprosy is forced to erase her name from family records and move to an island leprosarium. Mere miles from the home she can never return to, she must accept that her life will never be the same. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of the most honest, tender, and inventive books I've read in years. Talarigo never steps out of culture, out of voice, out of place; and yet this is a universal story, one of love, one of neglect, one of shame…He can find redemption even in the narrowest corridors of the human spirit.” 

    Colum McCann, author of Dancer

  • "Absorbing and original. Talarigo has managed to create a tone and mood that are themselves expressions of a time and a place and a people. The resulting light radiates outward from one small society in postwar Japan—across the waters and the years—to where the reader sits, still deeply immersed after the last page has been turned." 

    John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road

  • “Quietly powerful…This is a lyrically told tale of ugliness redeemed and lives changed by small acts with large consequences.”

    Liza Dalby, author of Gisha

  • “Drawing from actual medical history, Talarigo succeeds in telling a compelling story whose strength is its elegant simplicity.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An unforgettable, achingly sad novel.”

    Booklist

  • “Hypnotic…Talarigo’s prose is as evocative as a Hokusai woodcut.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Luminous…Everything looks magical through [Talarigo’s] lens.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Transformative…Explores the question of what a person becomes after having been stripped of everything: name, family and function, privacy and freedom. Talarigo’s answer seems to be that we are saved not by what we are but by who we are, the part of us that exists within the flesh, that is capable of transcendence.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “At once exquisite and horrifying, a piece of delicacy forged out of pain and the struggle against numbness…There is no denying the loveliness of this book…In Miss Fuji, [Talarigo] has given us a genuine hero.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marnie | 2/17/2014

    " Read it in two days - GREAT book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sue | 2/16/2014

    " To be a leprosy patient in 1940s Japan meant to be a societal outcast, quarantined on an island leprosarium with others afflicted with the disease. Jeff Talarigo gives a voice to Miss Fuji, Mr. Shitayama, Miss Min, Mr. Nagame, and his other characters; the voice that their society had long denied them. Thru a series of anecdotes, each introduced by the description of a catalogued artifact from the leprosarium, we glimpse their daily lives, experience the strength of human spirit that triumphs in this grim place, and see how advances in medicine and changes in social attitudes very slowly and gradually improve their lot, thru the decades of the 1950s thru the 1980s. For the Audio Book, Jennifer Ikeda speaks wonderfully as Miss Fuji, the young pearl diver of the book's title, who is brought to the island in 1948 at age nineteen, and who learns important lessons about living the truth, community, and solidarity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy Aquila | 2/11/2014

    " 3 1/2 stars - The history of the treatment of leprosy in Japan is fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 DaNette | 2/8/2014

    " I enjoyed this book about a young girl who is diagnosed with leprosy and is forced to live in a sanatorium. Her ability to cope with this forced imprisonment and to find meaning and pleasure in her life are discovered in this thoughtful book. A good read because it's different and approaches the main character's situation thoughtfully and realistically. Good enough to pick up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Holm | 1/25/2014

    " I randomly picked up this little pearl (pun very intended) off the library shelf and thought I'd give it a shot. What I found is a beautifully written story about a woman, her strength and humanity. Her thoughts are all so poetic. And the end is a real kicker. I almost cried... but I was so shocked, I couldn't. So I talked to my dog about it instead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 1/22/2014

    " I've never read a book about leprosy before, and found this one to be quite interesting. I thought it was truly sad that the patients were forced to stay on the island, and that they were forced to give up their names and choose new ones thus ending their life before leprosy. It was really sad how they were treated and how their families treated them. I'd like to believe that I'd still love and accept a family member that had been diagnosed with this disease. Maybe it was a cultural thing, since this book was based in Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzan | 1/22/2014

    " This book is exactly why I love libraries and librarians! It was recommended to me by one of my local librarians. It was a book that I would not normally pick up but, since my daughter read the Samurai's Garden for summer reading, which also deals with leprosy, I decided to pick it up. I am so glad I did. The writing is absolutely amazing. It is lyrical while dealing with an intense subject. (Hard to do!!) there is an eloquence to the spare writing that draws you in. The characters are well wrought, and exhibit a depth, strength, and compassion that I would do well to emulate. The artifice of using artifacts from the leprosarium does not feel at all artificial but allows you to delve deeper into the characters and their environment. I highly recommend this! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Thalia | 1/16/2014

    " Unfortunately, I just couldn't get emotionally invested in this story, I just never felt like I was able to connect with the characters. I never felt like the reader really got any insight into what characters felt or why they did what they did in any real meaningful way. There were moments of vivd storytelling, excellent descriptions (of pearl diving), or horror stories (late term abortions) but it wasn't enough. The story was too fractured for my tastes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 1/2/2014

    " Probably not a bad book, but just not my style. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirstin | 12/20/2013

    " I read this for book club. Not a book I probably would have picked out on my own, but very enjoyable read. That's what I love about book club--pushes me out of my comfort zone. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 12/14/2013

    " Follow the life of a Japanese parl diver who is diagnosed with leprosy just as WWII is ending. She receives an experimentaldrug which works but stigma keeps her in the leper colony for her lifetime. Beautifully written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aleyda | 11/13/2013

    " very sad novel, but very realistic in people understanding, compasion and survival. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dee | 11/12/2013

    " Such a sad little book, but the story is beautifully told. Thank goodness leprosy has almost been wiped out. It, like TB was a deadly baterial infection. Poor Miss Fugi and others in the Leprsarium had so much to endure. A story of hope and the search for normalcy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anthony | 11/11/2013

    " One of my favorite books of the year. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mai Ling | 9/27/2013

    " I suppose this book was worth it for taking us into a leprosy colony, but it was a bit too clinical with its "artifact # blah blah blah" and just kinda sad and hopeless. And maybe that's realistic, but it just didn't do it for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly Shillington Montenaro | 9/26/2013

    " randomly found this book at the library and it was most interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mom | 5/15/2013

    " Hard to imagine life in WWII Japan - a pearl diver with leprosy, removed with other such suffers to a world disconnected to the outside world. Ignorance and fear compounding the complexity of this very interesting book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nminnig | 1/20/2013

    " Takes place in 1948 - 19 year old girl has leprosy and is exiled to island of leprosarium "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abby | 10/27/2012

    " The author's voice is filled with pain yet still beautiful. This book causes one to reflect on the impact of isolation and an individual's capacity for enduring profound challenges. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynne | 9/20/2012

    " The story of a girl with leprosy and how one world ceases to exist for her while another one opens. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danyel | 10/6/2011

    " I really enjoyed the beginning of the book but I feel that it sort of fell of near the end. It was still a good read but I feel the author could have developed the ending much better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carmen5522 | 5/4/2011

    " A sweet and very sad story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 4/30/2011

    " 3 1/2 stars - The history of the treatment of leprosy in Japan is fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dee | 4/5/2011

    " Such a sad little book, but the story is beautifully told. Thank goodness leprosy has almost been wiped out. It, like TB was a deadly baterial infection. Poor Miss Fugi and others in the Leprsarium had so much to endure. A story of hope and the search for normalcy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Connie | 4/2/2011

    " Story set in Post-war Japan. Desciption of life in a leprosarium and the isolation from the rest of the world. Deeply moving story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laia | 2/10/2011

    " I keep dancing my rating back and forth between 4 and 5 stars. Beautiful book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 2/8/2011

    " I loved the idea of this book and I did enjoy it but seemed hollow. Could be that was what the author was shooting for. It will be a good book club discussion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brenda | 2/7/2011

    " Many insights with the book. Beautifully written. Need to read it again if I can get ahold of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 1/27/2011

    " I enjoyed Talarigo's character development. He covers the topic of leprosy in Japan with compassion and and leaves the reader wanting to research more. A good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kat | 12/1/2010

    " the book started off okay, then each "story" was broken down by artifacts. I couldn't get into the book this way and wished the style would've stayed the same from the beginning.

    I had not know much about leprosy and this book gave a good insight to the disease. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 10/21/2010

    " Lyrical writing that took my breath away at times. Beautifully & expressively read with depth of emotion by Jennifer Ikeda. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adrian | 7/26/2010

    " Good thought provoking book. It really opened my eyes to places and events in Japanese history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Savannah | 7/7/2010

    " A very good book but I can never read it again. The leper colony broke my heart. "

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About the Author

Jeff Talarigo received the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rosenthal Award for The Pearl Diver. He is currently a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Centre for Scholars and Writers and lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Jennifer Ikeda has been narrating audiobooks since 2002. Among her readings are When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park; Just Listen by Sarah Dessen; and After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates. She has won six AudioFile Earphones Awards.