best tracker Skip to main content

For this audiobook review, we delve into the Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad.” With its intricate characters, unique structure, and compelling themes, this audiobook is a must-listen for fans of contemporary fiction.

In this review, we’ll examine the author’s writing style, narration and performance, character development, themes and symbolism, and the critical reception of the audiobook. We’ll also compare “A Visit from the Goon Squad” to other notable works by Jennifer Egan and highlight feedback from readers.

But first, let’s learn more about the author behind this spellbinding story.

Key Takeaways:

  • “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative by Jennifer Egan
  • This review will cover the writing style, narration, character development, themes, and critical reception of the audiobook
  • Readers’ feedback and comparisons to other works by Jennifer Egan will also be included

About the Author: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan is an acclaimed American author, born in Chicago, Illinois in 1962. She studied at the University of Pennsylvania and later earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. Egan began her writing career as a journalist, writing for publications such as The New York Times, Harper’s, and GQ. She later transitioned to fiction writing and has published several highly praised novels and short story collections.

“I don’t have a conventional sense of the novel’s trajectory. I have to start each time anew. I’ve never really learned how to write a novel, because whenever I start, I’m starting again, and it feels like a rookie mistake. Nobody knows how to write a novel.”

Egan is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” which was published in 2010. The novel is a collection of interconnected stories that explore the music industry, time, and human relationships. It is known for its unique structure and experimental style, with elements of PowerPoint slides and a chapter presented as a celebrity profile magazine article.

In addition to her Pulitzer Prize, Egan has also been honored with a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among others. Her other notable works include “The Invisible Circus,” “Look at Me,” and “Manhattan Beach.”

Overview of “A Visit from the Goon Squad”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning audiobook “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan is a collection of interconnected stories that navigate through time and characters to create a captivating and thought-provoking narrative. The audiobook revolves around Bennie Salazar, a record company executive, his assistant Sasha, and a variety of characters from their past and present lives.

Plot Summary

The story is told through several non-linear narratives, each exploring a different character’s perspective and experiences. The plot focuses on themes of time, memory, and aging, as the characters struggle to navigate their personal and professional lives while dealing with the consequences of their past actions.

Key Characters

Character Name Description
Bennie Salazar A record company executive and the central character of the story.
Sasha Bennie’s assistant with a history of kleptomania.
Scotty Bennie’s high school friend who becomes involved with a group of criminals.
Rhea Bennie’s wife and mother of their two children.
Jocelyn A publicist and former love interest of Bennie.


“A Visit from the Goon Squad” explores a range of themes, including the meaning of time, the impact of technology, and the cyclical nature of life. The audiobook also delves into the topics of identity, memory, and aging, highlighting the struggles of each character as they reflect on their past and present lives.

Narration and Performance

The audiobook version of “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is a masterclass in narration and performance. The voices are distinct and well-suited to each character, making it easy to differentiate between them. The pace is perfect, allowing the listener to fully immerse themselves in the story without feeling rushed. The overall delivery is clear and engaging, making it hard to press the stop button.

“The narration in this audiobook is incredible. It brings the characters to life and makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the story.” – Mary K.

Writing Style and Storytelling

The writing style of Jennifer Egan in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is a distinctive blend of experimental and conventional narrative techniques that seamlessly shift between past and present, immersing readers in the lives of complex characters. Egan employs a variety of writing styles, including stream of consciousness and PowerPoint presentations, creating a dynamic reading experience that keeps the audience engaged.

The novel’s storytelling is equally remarkable, as Egan weaves together multiple storylines, characters, and time periods, exploring themes of time, memory, and the human condition. The use of alternate perspectives, including first- and third-person narration, provides a fuller understanding of the characters and their motivations, building empathy and deepening the impact of the story.

Characters and Character Development

One of the most outstanding features of “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is the author’s approach to character development. Jennifer Egan’s vivid portrayal of her characters is commendable and keeps readers hooked throughout.

The story follows a group of friends, acquaintances and music industry insiders, whose lives interconnect in different ways over several decades. Egan does a commendable job of crafting distinct personalities and presenting them with their emotions, desires, and flaws.

The protagonist, Bennie Salazar, is a music executive, and the other characters in the book are connected to him in some way or the other. Each character experiences his or her own unique journey, and the author brilliantly highlights how one person’s action can influence the life of another for better or worse.

The story oscillates between past and present, and as it does, Egan’s mastery of character development is on full display. She captures the complicated relationships between the characters with great detail, and their experiences resonates with the readers.

Throughout the audiobook, the characters undergo significant transformations, and their personal growth is depicted well. The author’s sensitivity towards the characters and a clear understanding of their motivations and psychologies make them come alive.

Egan’s well-crafted characters and profound exploration of their development are what makes “A Visit from the Goon Squad” a memorable and powerful audiobook.

Themes and Symbolism

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” is a complex narrative that delves into the overarching themes of time, music, and identity. Egan’s use of symbolism throughout the audiobook adds an extra layer of depth and meaning to the story.

The most prominent theme in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is time – both its passage and its effects on characters as they age. The book’s title itself is symbolic, representing the elusive nature of time and the impact it has on relationships and personal growth. The audiobook uses music as a symbol for time, as it is a medium that can evoke memories and emotions from different times in one’s life. Egan also explores themes of identity and reinvention, as characters struggle to define themselves while grappling with the past and present.

Egan’s use of symbolism is particularly notable in her depiction of pauses and silences. The audiobook’s non-linear structure and fragmented narrative often leave gaps and empty spaces that symbolize the unspoken thoughts and emotions of the characters. This technique also highlights the ambiguity of time and memory, emphasizing that what is not said or shown can be just as powerful as what is.

The Impact of Symbolism

The use of symbolism in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” is integral to the overarching themes of the audiobook and its immersive storytelling. Through symbolism, Egan is able to convey complex emotions and ideas while maintaining a sense of mystery and intrigue. The symbols and themes in the audiobook invite readers to reflect on their own experiences with time and identity, creating a powerful and evocative narrative.

Structure and Time Shifts

The unique structure and time shifts employed in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan are central to its storytelling. The novel is composed of interlinked stories, each with its own protagonist and timeline. The narratives jump back and forth between the past, present, and future, creating a non-linear structure that reflects the theme of time and its effects on the characters’ lives.

Egan’s use of second-person narration and unconventional chapter lengths further contributes to the fragmented structure of the novel. Each story stands on its own but also builds on the ones before and after it, creating a complex web of characters and events.

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” employs a unique and unconventional narrative structure that challenges the reader’s perception of time and memory. The non-linear time jumps create a sense of disorientation that mirrors the characters’ experience of their own lives.” – The New York Times Book Review

Critical Reception and Awards

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” has received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising Jennifer Egan’s innovative narrative style and poignant characterizations. The audiobook has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011.

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Year Category Award
2011 Fiction Pulitzer Prize

Furthermore, the audiobook was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. This recognition highlights the impact that “A Visit from the Goon Squad” has had on the literary world.

Comparison to Other Jennifer Egan Works

While “A Visit from the Goon Squad” remains one of Jennifer Egan’s most iconic works, it is worth comparing it to her other notable literary achievements to understand the evolution of her style and themes.

Works Publication Year Genre Major Themes
The Invisible Circus 1995 Fiction Identity, family, rebellion
Look at Me 2001 Fiction Self-image, fame, technology
The Keep 2006 Fiction Memory, identity, confinement
A Visit from the Goon Squad 2010 Fiction Time, regret, music

Egan’s early works focused heavily on family, identity, and rebellion, while her later works deal with larger societal issues such as technology and fame. However, in all her works, Egan’s unique writing style and innovative storytelling techniques shine through, cementing her place as one of the most important contemporary authors.

Readers’ Feedback and Recommendations

Throughout the years, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” has become a beloved audiobook for many listeners. Numerous reviews from a variety of sources, including Goodreads, Audible, and Amazon, praise Jennifer Egan’s masterful storytelling and the captivating performance by the narrator, Roxana Ortega. Most readers found the unique structure and time shifts to be both challenging and rewarding, highlighting Egan’s ability to weave together multiple narratives and characters.

Many listeners recommend this audiobook to fans of contemporary fiction, music lovers, and those who appreciate innovative storytelling. Some noted that it may take a few chapters to catch onto the narrative structure, but once they did, they couldn’t put it down. Others emphasized the underlying themes of connection, regret, and the fleeting nature of time and how Egan masterfully explored these through different characters and settings, especially through the eyes of Sasha and Bennie.

Readers' Feedback and Recommendations

“This audiobook was a feast for the ears and the mind. I found myself completely immersed in the characters’ lives, enjoying the way the different storylines interconnected. Highly recommended!” – Jane J.

“I loved the structure of ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ and how it explored the ups and downs of the music industry. Roxana Ortega did an excellent job narrating, and I found myself listening to it multiple times to pick up on all the nuances.” – David S.

If you’re looking for a unique, heartfelt, and moving audiobook, then “A Visit from the Goon Squad” comes highly recommended by both critics and listeners alike.


In conclusion, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan is a remarkable audiobook that offers a unique and captivating narrative. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author skillfully employs a non-linear structure and time shifts to explore the complexities of human relationships and the passage of time.

The narration and performance by a full cast of voice actors bring the story to life and enhance the overall listening experience. Jennifer Egan’s writing style is brilliant, with vivid descriptions, witty dialogues, and an uncanny ability to delve deep into the characters’ psyche.

The characters are complex and well-developed, with relatable flaws and aspirations that make them memorable. The major themes and symbolism in the book add depth and meaning to the narrative, making it an enriching and thought-provoking experience.

Overall, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan is a must-read (or listen) for anyone who appreciates well-crafted literary fiction. Its critical reception and awards are a testament to its quality, and it is a standout work in Jennifer Egan’s esteemed writing career.

Based on positive feedback and recommendations from readers, we highly recommend this audiobook to anyone looking for a captivating story that will stay with them long after the final chapter.


What is "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan about?

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” is an audiobook by Jennifer Egan that explores the interconnected lives of various characters connected to the music industry. It delves into themes of time, memory, and the impact of technology on our lives.

Who is Jennifer Egan?

Jennifer Egan is a celebrated author known for her unique storytelling and narrative techniques. She has written several critically acclaimed novels and short stories, with “A Visit from the Goon Squad” being one of her most recognized works.

What can I expect from the narration and performance in the audiobook?

The audiobook of “A Visit from the Goon Squad” features skilled narrators who bring the characters and their stories to life. Their delivery captures the essence of the narrative and enhances the overall listening experience.

How does Jennifer Egan’s writing style contribute to the audiobook?

Jennifer Egan’s writing style is characterized by its innovative structure and vivid storytelling. In the audiobook, her unique style creates a captivating atmosphere and keeps listeners engaged as they follow the characters’ journeys.

Are the characters in "A Visit from the Goon Squad" well-developed?

Yes, the characters in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” are intricately developed, with each one having their own complexities and depth. As the audiobook progresses, listeners will witness the growth and transformation of these characters.

What are the major themes and symbolism explored in the story?

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” delves into various themes such as time, loss, the music industry, and the impact of technology on society. Symbolism is also present, adding layers of meaning to the narrative and enriching the overall reading experience.

How is the structure of the audiobook and its use of time shifts?

The audiobook adopts a non-linear structure, with time shifts that jump between different periods and perspectives. This unique approach adds depth and complexity to the storytelling, allowing listeners to see the interconnectedness of the characters’ lives.

How has "A Visit from the Goon Squad" been received by critics and has it won any awards?

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” has received widespread critical acclaim, with praise for its innovative narrative style and compelling characters. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011, further cementing its status as a significant work in contemporary literature.

How does "A Visit from the Goon Squad" compare to other works by Jennifer Egan?

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” showcases Jennifer Egan’s distinctive style and themes, but each of her works has its own unique qualities. Readers can expect to find similarities in terms of her storytelling prowess and exploration of complex human emotions and relationships.

What do readers say about "A Visit from the Goon Squad" audiobook?

Readers have praised “A Visit from the Goon Squad” for its thought-provoking narrative, well-developed characters, and its ability to capture the essence of human experience. Many recommend the audiobook as a must-listen for fans of Jennifer Egan and those seeking a compelling literary journey.

Leave a Reply