We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
A Prayer for Owen Meany Audiobook

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Regular Price:$34.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended.

In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of John Irvin's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview that begins when the audiobook ends.

Why we think it’s a great listen: For 20 years, John Irving believed that his ambitious novel could never be adequately executed in audio – and then he met narrator Joe Barrett.... In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument.


This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.

©1989 Garp Enterprises Ltd; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This moving book comes across like a concerto in this audio version, with a soloist—Owen's voice—rising from the background of an orchestral narration. This book, one of the finest of its time, gets the narration that it deserves." (AudioFile)

“John Irving, who writes novels in the unglamorous but effective way Babe Ruth used to hit home runs, deserves a medal not only for writing this book but for the way he has written it. . . . A Prayer for Owen Meany is a rare creation in the somehow exhausted world of late twentieth-century fiction—it is an amazingly brave piece of work . . . so extraordinary, so original, and so enriching. . . . Readers will come to the end feeling sorry to leave [this] richly textured and carefully wrought world.” (Stephen King)

"Roomy, intelligent, exhilarating, and darkly comic...Dickensian in scope....Quite stunning and very ambitious." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (6663 )
5 star
 (4241)
4 star
 (1437)
3 star
 (550)
2 star
 (241)
1 star
 (194)
Overall
4.4 (5344 )
5 star
 (3583)
4 star
 (1031)
3 star
 (403)
2 star
 (193)
1 star
 (134)
Story
4.6 (5337 )
5 star
 (3947)
4 star
 (898)
3 star
 (288)
2 star
 (92)
1 star
 (112)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Alan 03-28-11
    Alan 03-28-11 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    155
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    13
    0
    Overall
    "Outstanding"

    I listen to a lot of books while i drive my roadtrain in Western Australia, it keeps me going through the long nights. When I got this book I was a little concerned with its length and seemingly lack of interest in the plot etc.. Well all I can say is the narrator was fantastic and the story was great, quite often i wanted to sit in my truck after arriving at my destination after a 12 hour shift to listen to a bit more.

    87 of 93 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esther Robina, Australia 05-29-11
    Esther Robina, Australia 05-29-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "The Best ever audio book"

    I have listened to many books in the past but this has to be the best in my estimation. John Irving is a genius and Joe Barrett reads this book to perfection. A totally mesmerising story that has weaved its magic into my soul; I will be thinking about these complex characters for years to come. I will be downloading more of this author and will look for other books by this reader. Thank you John Irving

    49 of 52 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette Bradenton, FL, United States 03-17-11
    Annette Bradenton, FL, United States 03-17-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    87
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    57
    52
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    3
    Overall
    "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

    I have always enjoyed John Irving's writing, but I haven't read anything by him in many years. This book did not disappoint.John Irving's has a wonderful skill of turning a phrase and makes the common ideas seem ridiculous and is always questioning convention. Brilliant! Joe Barrett's narration of this book is also brilliant. The range he uses to individualize each character enables the listener to "see" each character individually. I was a little skeptical to buy this book since I love John Irving and I didn't want the narration to "ruin" the story. I am enjoying this production tremendously and will encourage anyone to give it a listen.

    33 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 08-16-14
    Tango Texas 08-16-14

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3237
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    982
    159
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    434
    27
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Modern Classic"

    If I could choose one phrase to summarize this masterpiece, I couldn't do better than the title of Jan's review - "Not written - crafted...exquisitely" (nicely said, Jan!). Although APFOM has an interesting plot and a shattering ending, if you read this book just for the story, you will miss the best part; APFOM is truly a modern classic with some of the best and most engaging use of literary devices and provocative thought I've ever seen. To list a few:

    1. Enveloping and evocative use of setting - both historical and geographic - to set the tone and pacing
    2. Masterful use of the first person form. First person is challenging when you want to portray detail for many characters. A Prayer not only provides detail characterization for a great cast of eccentrics, its primary protagonist is not the POV character. In lesser hands, the reader would not be able to relate to Owen Meany with all his strangeness when portrayed only from the POV of his friend, John Wheelwright, but Irving not only slowly makes you understand Owen, but truly love him.
    3. Foreshadowing, allusion, and symbolism so subtle and finely woven into the narrative that you will not realize until the ending that you have been told repeatedly what is going to happen and still the ending is gut-wrenching and shocking and inevitable.
    4. Some of the most insightful commentary on religion and faith that I have ever read in fiction. The beautiful, tragic, and repulsive aspects of religion are all woven into this narrative with little jewels of wisdom scattered throughout. One of my favorite quotes, "My belief in God disturbs and unsettles me much more than not believing ever did. Unbelief seems vastly harder to me now than belief does, but belief poses so many unanswerable questions." In the end, A Prayer is a real tribute to active Faith.

    I read the book many years ago when it was first published and I think it can be advantageous to see this book in print to understand how Irving wrote it (Owen's dialog is in all caps and Irving often throws a word said in Owen's voice into the middle of John's sentences) so you will appreciate the phenomenal narrative interpretation of the book by Joe Barrett - truly an outstanding performance of a challenging book. I have had a permanent place on my bookshelves for APFOM for years, but not re-read it just because the ending is hard. However, I couldn't resist the audiobook when it was on sale and now I realize I should have picked it up long ago because it is more than worth full price. If you have read the book, I strongly encourage you to listen to the audiobook - you will not be disappointed. And, Irving packs so much beautiful prose and food for thought in this book, it is one that really should be read or heard more than once.

    42 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-29-15
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 07-29-15 Member Since 2008

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    453
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    254
    201
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    24
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Painfully nostalgic"

    It's been about a quarter of a century since I read this the first time. I was amazed at how fast the beginning of the book moved. I remember the end of the book dragging on, but that's not true. Irving juggles time so that the actual book is always moving. It's the book's nominal timeline that drags. I am even more impressed the second time around with how Irving has constructed this book.

    Normally, for me to enthusiastic about a novel, at least one of the characters has to undergo some kind of development. Despite having a slate of really interesting, well-defined characters, it is hard to say if any of them develop over the course of the book. The book is told by the narrator, John Wheelwright, as an extended reminiscence of the most important person in his life, Owen Meany. It is hard to say if Owen is ultimately a positive influence on John's life. I think that sort of murky mystery is part of my fascination. But frankly, I cared a lot more about what was going on with Owen than about the narrator. Sorry, John.

    Somehow, I did not realize how much this book was about Vietnam the first time I read it. Not about the war per se, but about its effects on a generation of Americans. And from that perspective, I do care a great deal about what happens to John Wheelwright. It's just that Owen steals every scene that he's in.

    For those of us who remember the era in which it is set, this is a dead-on evocation of what the America of those times felt like. I said painfully nostalgic in the heading, but that does the book a disservice. The fact is that Irving has layered together a great story that is at once timeless while being totally specific to a time and place. It doesn't get much better than that.

    There is a bonus feature at the end: an interview with John Irving. This was an excellent addition with some key bits of insight and background information. Heartily recommended.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine 06-29-12
    Katherine 06-29-12 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    100
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A wonderful story"

    Excellent narration of a difficult subject - how to reproduce "The Voice" of Owen Meany - it could have been irritating but Joe Barrett has succeeded in making it believable.
    John Irving has everything in this story - growing up, family life, tragedy, mystery, politics, religion, faith and humour.
    I love this book.

    23 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    53
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!!"

    I really enjoyed this book, keeps reader interested and waiting for the next part. Highly recommend!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 06-14-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 06-14-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    796
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    566
    311
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    61
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Intriguing"

    I did not connect John Irving to Cider House Rules at first. But after listening for awhile, the same delightful humor style came rushing back and I was thrilled. How Irving unravels this story, interweaving current with past is tricky and clever. And just as in Cider House Rules, he plays out a rather political theme ever so carefully that you do not even realize it is happening.

    The narration is also rather clever. At first it was annoying when "the voice" was used even for one-word illustrations. But it truly added to the story. I began to anticipate it.

    There is a wonderful interview with John Irving at the end. That was great, getting some insight on his writing style.

    There were so many fascinating twists and turns to the story. It also brought back some wonderful (I see I am using "wonderful" a lot but truly that is how I feel) memories of my own childhood. It all made me wonder why I have not read more of John Irving. I plan to do just that!!

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 01-10-14
    John S MA 01-10-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1575
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    192
    189
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    135
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Favorite book of all time."

    John Irving is not for everyone, and if you have not listened to one of books choose this one. If not this one, then Cider House Rules. I have over 500 books in my Audible library and this by far is my favorite. John Irving books are by no means" thrillers", but the characters he creates are memorable, especially Owen Meany. Sad, funny, poignant this book should be on everyone's list of great American fiction. Told during the turbulent 60s the book is set in a small town in NH and follows the life of the main character (narrator) and Owen Meany, who is deformed in body but not in spirit . The ending will bring tears to your eyes:


    And they were also lifting up Owen Meany, taking him out of our hands. O God -- please give him back! I shall keep asking You."

    31 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marlène United States 03-24-11
    Marlène United States 03-24-11 Member Since 2016

    orchid62

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    67
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "I love the atmosphere and the clever reflections"

    When the helplessness of certain characters, the weirdness of Owen, the sad death of a young woman become qualities on which this intricate and incredibly clever story is based, you can only raise your hat. The suspense with which you wait for the end may well keep you up - like me - for hours...

    23 of 28 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    5/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing and memorable book"

    I've read two other novels by the author and hoped that this book would be as good. I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a remarkable creation that will stick in my mind for a long time.
    I didn’t want it to end. It starts as a story of small town America and then diverges in all directions as the eponymous Owen and his close friend John grow from boyhood to manhood and we get to know their families, foibles and achievements. On the back of their story, populated by many larger than life characters, the author lets his imagination rip as he contemplates questions of morality, religion, politics, loyalty, love, war and patriotism to name but a few of the myriad of topics that enrich this marvellous book that tugs at the emotions but also very funny at times. Owen Meany is an extraordinary creation. Never exceeding 5 feet tall with a voice that has hasn’t broken he dominates the book and all around him. The narrator gives him such a memorable voice:, a cross between Twittie Pie and Donald Duck, that makes him endearing but not one to be pitied: he is an heroic character.
    The narrator is outstanding and brought the characters to life in this memorable book.

    28 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • Brenda Dayne
    Wales
    7/29/10
    Overall
    "A moving masterpiece."

    A beautifully crafted, funny, heartbreaking work of genius from a world-class writer at the top of his game, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of those books that simply defies easy description.

    It's about angels. And armadillos. THE VOICE. An armless Indian and an headless Holy Goalie. A lethal baseball, a Christmas pageant baby Jesus, and the precise connection between what the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come saw on a cardboard tombstone and the burned and blistered corpse of a helicopter pilot killed in Vietnam. Through all the quirky characters and masterful plotting, however, at its heart, A Prayer for Owen Meany is about family, friendship, community, and what it really means to be a hero.

    Narrator, Joe Barret's, pitch perfect reading captured the spirit and voice of each unforgettable character, including that of Owen Meany, whose screeching, grating, damaged voice is portrayed in the novel in full caps. Somehow Barret accomplishes this feat in such a way that he fully embodies Owen's unforgettable voice, yet is still easy on the ears of audio book listeners.

    This Audible version of A Prayer for Owen Meany made me laugh, made me fall in love with Owen Meany and, ultimately, broke my heart. When the book was over, I missed Owen, as if I'd known him.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • LB
    UK
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Stunningly well written & read"

    Not my usual cup of tea, but 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' builds up over the length of the book into a great mix of characters and plots.



    Throughout the entire storyline there are beautiful little references to seemingly innocuous past events, with the smallest details weaving such a wonderful picture, leaving the reader (listener) with a clarity of what this world looks like and what the people are like, but still allowing the imagination to form the shapes.



    I wished my drive to work was longer so I could have listened to more in one go, and in fact there were occasions that I took a 'long-cut' just to hear a particular story line thread play out!



    It is to a budding novelist as a Mozart concerto is to a wannabe musician who has just picked up a tambourine... You think you'd like to try your hand at writing, then you see this and realise what a really good author can produce.



    I'm a great fan of the Jason Bourne series, and John Le Carre is by far my favourite author of a book series or genre, but Owen Meany is that exception to the rule. Truly mesmerising.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Kaggy
    United Kingdom
    11/23/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Such an annoying boy - but totally captivating..."

    Prepare to be irritated, infuriated and enchanted by Owen Meany in equal measure. This is a book about friendship, love, religion and war - all the big themes - but beautifully woven into a vivid story about a charismatic boy in small town America, spanning the Fifties to the Eighties. Joe Barrett does a marvelous job of narrating this lengthy story, particularly in tackling Owen's screechy voice in an honest and unfliching way.

    I recommend you listen to the final chapter, which is an interview with John Irving and an amazing insight into how an author understands his own work.

    This a big time investment but probably one of the best you will ever make.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Robert
    Tonbridge, United Kingdom
    12/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "wonderful wonderful"
    Would you listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany again? Why?

    I would listen to Owen Meany again and I plan to. I read this book many years ago and was delighted to see it on Audible. To listen to it was so pleasurable and delightful.The narrator is really really good. Now I am looking for everything else he has done!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Owen Meany is the heart of it and the ending is just so surprising, I was on the edge of my seat and so affected for days.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It certainly made me cry.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Lyra
    Portugal
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "An excellent book on all levels"

    It is well written, the story is very good and, mostly through the character Owen Meany, the book makes lots of important points about the absurdity of many aspects of life. I thoroughly recommend.



    Joe Barrett is a good reader too.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Alison
    Burnham-on-Sea, United Kingdom
    4/4/13
    Overall
    "Just listen - it will captivate you"

    Let it just keep going, because the start is a little slow. It's long - and it will be worth every minute of your time.



    Beautiful writing, and such expert narration.



    Sad and sobering though some of the story is, it's not written in a way that cynically tries to milk the pathos. In fact, most of the sad incidents are dealt with in such a matter-of-fact way, it helps you to deal with it, too. It is also a very funny book, with sly, sideways humour and sometimes some pure slapstick comic passages.



    I really did love this boo and was very sad to leave it.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Brendan
    Ballinasloe, Ireland
    1/8/13
    Overall
    "An Oscar for Joseph Barrett."

    Joe Barrett deserves an award for his beautiful reading of this beautiful book. (that's only 13 words)

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • MR Coffey
    7/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stay with it - a masterpiece."
    Would you listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany again? Why?

    Yes - the central character is just so captivating as is the book's narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Owen Meany - prophetic, small, squeaky voiced, and enthralling.


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The narration is what makes this - just outstanding - the best I've heard in an audible book - his range of voices is consistently brilliant.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes - the ending was moving and the big story of the US' conscience and the Vietnam War is revealed superbly in the tale


    Any additional comments?

    Stick with it for the first few chapters until the characters grow on you. The humour is laugh out loud and irreverent and yet spiritual too without ever being pious. Irving says in the interview at the end that the challenge he set himself was to ask as an atheist, what it would take for him to come to believe in God.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Burcin
    Hellerup, Denmark
    12/11/11
    Overall
    "difficult to go through"

    There is an interesting story in this book but really really taking long time to get through. I rather preferred reading the book instead of listening then I could skip some pages more quickly. I am in the last 6 hours and feeling like I can't breathe anymore while trying to get it done. Narration is excellent, the accents are very well done, story is good but unnecessarily long.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.