There is probably no American short story writer more beloved than George Saunders. His best-selling work has won every award from the MacArthur "Genius Grant" and World Fantasy Award, to the Folio Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. But while he's been publishing for more than 20 years, he hasn't published a novel—until this year.
His first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, will be published next month, and it's easily one of the most anticipated books of the year. If you need proof of how excited people are, look no further than the absurdly star-studded, 166-person cast of the audiobook version.
Basically every celebrity you love—from Julianne Moore and Ben Stiller, to Lena Dunham and Miranda July—will lend their voices to Saunders's debut novel. The lineup includes alt-rock stars like Jeff Tweedy and Marvel superheroes like Don Cheadle, along with Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Carrie Brownstein, Susan Sarandon, Keegan-Michael Key, and countless others. Needless to say, it's one impressive lineup for anything, let alone an audiobook. (The publisher is actually applying for a Guinness World Record for the most audiobook narrators in a single work.)
The audiobook will also feature the voices of Saunders's friends and family. "I love the idea that by casting actors and non-actors we were able to simulate that 'I hear America singing' notion," the author said in a press release.
Lincoln in the Bardo follows Abraham Lincoln after the death of his son Willie at the start of the Civil War. The bardo in Tibetan buddhism is the transitional state between life and death, and it's there that "Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance." Look for the both the book and the audiobook next month.