Penguin to Set World Record with "Lincoln in the Bardo" Audiobook
Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Megan Mullally and Don Cheadle are among the celebrities who have all lent their voices to narrate the story, about Abraham Lincoln mourning his son Willie in a graveyard full of ghosts. Penguin Random House Audio is applying for a Guinness World Record for most individuals’ voices on a single audiobook.
“This was a really gratifying artistic venture — to have so many talented people give their time to my work like this,” Saunders emailed TIME. “I had approached Kelly Gildea, the producer, with high hopes but also (I can see in retrospect) with no idea of how much I was asking—the sheer amount of work and organization. But she agreed immediately and went to work on it: 166 different voices, one for every character in the book, no doubling, and the final cast included A-list Hollywood talent, amazing audiobook professionals, and (especially meaningful to me) a bunch of family members, close friends, and volunteers from Random House and ICM. I love the way that the variety of contemporary American voices mimics and underscores the feeling I tried to evoke in the book: a sort of American chorale.”
166 voices would be a stretch for a single narrator, but it’s not out of the question.
Literary Hub notes that the world record holder for the greatest number of “distinct and distinguishable” voices performed in an audiobook is Roy Dotrice, who voiced A Game of Thrones, with all its 224 characters. He got the award in 2011 for A Game of Thrones, but as George R R Martin pointed out Dotrice has probably already beaten his own record while narrating later books in the series.