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If you’re a fan of audiobooks and literary fiction, you won’t want to miss “The World According to Garp” by John Irving. In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore all the aspects of this classic novel, including its narration and performance, character development, writing style, themes, critical reception, and more. Whether you’re a longtime Irving fan or new to his work, this audiobook has something to offer.

Join us as we take a deep dive into this captivating story and discover why “The World According to Garp” remains a beloved classic decades after its initial publication. So, sit back, relax, and let’s delve into the remarkable world of John Irving.

About the Author – John Irving

John Irving is an American novelist and screenwriter, born on March 2, 1942, in Exeter, New Hampshire. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English and later attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Irving is best known for his novels such as “The World According to Garp,” “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” and “The Cider House Rules,” which have earned him numerous awards and critical acclaim. In 2000, he was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction for “The Cider House Rules.”

Aside from writing, Irving is also an accomplished screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film adaptation of “The Cider House Rules.”

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” – John Irving

Irving’s literary works often explore topics such as family dynamics, sexual identity, and the complexities of American culture. His unique storytelling style, which blends humor and tragedy, has captivated readers around the world for decades.

Throughout his career, Irving has been recognized with numerous literary awards and honors, including the National Medal of Arts in 2013. He continues to write and publish new works to this day, cementing his place as one of America’s most gifted and influential authors.

Overview of “The World According to Garp”

“The World According to Garp” is a novel written by renowned author John Irving and published in 1978. The story revolves around the life of T.S. Garp, a novelist, and his tragicomic adventures. The novel explores themes such as feminism, sexual identity, and the unpredictable nature of life.

The plot intertwines with several characters and events, including Garp’s unconventional family life, his wrestling coach, and his daughter’s intense desire to become a writer. The story also depicts Garp’s attempts to protect himself and his family from death and tragedy, which ultimately leads to their entanglement. The novel’s plot is intriguingly complex and intricately crafted, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.

Major Themes

At the heart of “The World According to Garp” is the theme of acceptance, as the characters come to accept their flaws and vulnerabilities. Additionally, the novel explores the significance of literature and writing in society and the representation of women in literature. The story also delves into the role of personal experiences in shaping one’s worldview and perspective on life.

Significance of Publication

“The World According to Garp” was John Irving’s fourth novel and garnered widespread acclaim for its bold narrative and themes. The work represented a departure from Irving’s previous novels, and its success solidified his reputation as one of the most significant contemporary American novelists.

Narration and Performance

When it comes to audiobooks, narration quality can make or break the listening experience. In the case of “The World According to Garp,” the audiobook version is expertly narrated by Michael Prichard. Prichard’s performance captures the humor, wit, and emotional depth of John Irving’s prose, keeping listeners engaged from start to finish.

Prichard’s voice is clear and easy to understand, with just the right pacing and tone to convey the story’s various moods and emotions. His character voices are spot-on, giving each character a unique and believable voice. From Garp himself to his mother Jenny, to the various other characters that populate the novel, Prichard’s narration is a true performance in every sense of the word.

The combination of John Irving’s powerful writing and Michael Prichard’s expert narration make for an unforgettable listening experience that enhances the overall impact of “The World According to Garp.”

Character Development

The characters in “The World According to Garp” are complex, each contributing to the story’s impact in significant ways. John Irving has created a diverse and well-crafted cast that explores varying aspects of the human experience.

Character Description
Garp The protagonist of the story, a struggling writer, and a father.
Jenny Fields Garp’s mother, a feminist icon and nurse who raises her child without a father figure.
Roberta Muldoon A transgender former football player who becomes Garp’s closest friend.
Ellen James A young girl who is raped and becomes a symbol for the feminist movement.

Each character in “The World According to Garp” undergoes significant development throughout the course of the story, causing readers to become deeply invested in their lives and the challenges they face.

“You know what the cruelest thing is you can do to someone? Force them to look at themselves from your point of view.” – Roberta Muldoon

Through Roberta Muldoon’s character, the novel explores themes of gender identity and self-acceptance. Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, stands out as a complex character with feminist views ahead of her time. John Irving illustrates her character in a way that no one is just one thing, blending humor, and sadness. Together, the characters make for a compelling read that challenges readers to consider their own views on gender, family, and identity.

character development

Writing Style and Themes

John Irving’s writing style in “The World According to Garp” is both distinctive and versatile. He presents an intricate storyline with vivid characters and carefully crafted narrative. Irving’s writing strikes a balance between humor and tragedy, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.

The novel delves into several themes, including feminism, sexuality, violence, and the complexities of family relationships. The theme of sex pervades the novel, with multiple characters grappling with sexual identity and the consequences of their actions. Irving connects the themes of sex and violence, revealing how both can be used as a tool for manipulation and control.

The novel explores the struggle of women to challenge gender norms and carve out a space for themselves in society. Feminism is a recurring theme throughout the novel, with several female characters defying societal expectations and choosing to follow their own paths.

“Imagining something is better than remembering something.” – John Irving, The World According to Garp

The novel also delves into the complexities of family dynamics, highlighting how they are often strained and defined by tragedy and loss. While the novel ultimately explores themes of hope and resilience, it also portrays the harsh realities of life and the unpredictability of fate.

Pros Cons
The writing is both humorous and poignant, captivating readers with its intricacy and versatility. Some readers may find the themes of sex and violence uncomfortable or disturbing.
The novel explores a wide range of themes and motifs, offering a comprehensive exploration of the human experience. The complexity of the narrative may be difficult for some readers to follow.
The character development is masterfully done, with each character feeling distinct and three-dimensional. The novel’s length may be daunting to some readers.

Overall, John Irving’s writing style in “The World According to Garp” is a tour de force of storytelling, exploring complex themes and motifs with an intricate and versatile narrative. The novel strikes a delicate balance between humor and tragedy, ultimately delivering a poignant and thought-provoking reading experience.

Emotional Impact

One of the most significant aspects of “The World According to Garp” is its emotional depth. With its intricate characters and thought-provoking themes, this story takes readers on a journey that elicits a range of emotions. At times, readers may find themselves laughing out loud at the humor peppered throughout the novel. Other moments may bring tears to their eyes as they empathize with the characters’ struggles and heartache.

The impact of “The World According to Garp” lies in its ability to connect with readers on a deep emotional level. John Irving’s masterful storytelling evokes a sense of understanding and introspection, compelling readers to reflect on their own lives and relationships. For many, this novel is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with its readers.

Pacing and Plot Structure

One of the strengths of “The World According to Garp” audiobook is its exceptional pacing and plot structure. The story flows seamlessy from one chapter to another, allowing the listener to become fully immersed in the plot. John Irving has a masterful ability to build tension and suspense at just the right moments, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

As a result of the impeccable pacing, the listener never feels lost or disconnected from the plot. Each character’s story arc is woven together in a way that makes perfect sense and keeps the audiobook engaging and captivating. The plot structure ensures that every scene serves a purpose, whether it’s to develop a character or advance the story.

“The World According to Garp” audiobook boasts immaculate pacing and plot structure that keeps the listener fully engaged and captivated”

Critical Reception

“The World According to Garp” had a significant impact on both readers and critics upon its release in 1978. The novel earned critical acclaim for its bold themes and unique narrative structure.

The New York Times Book Review praised Irving’s writing style, stating that “he is a true storyteller, and despite the twists and turns of his fiction, one always believes his characters are real.”

Similarly, The Washington Post highlighted Irving’s ability to weave together humor and tragedy, stating that the novel “is a serious work that often reads like a comedy, full of surprises and unexpected turns.”

“The World According to Garp” received numerous awards and nominations, including the National Book Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Critical Reception

Irving’s success with “The World According to Garp” launched his career and solidified his place in contemporary literature. His subsequent novels continued to receive critical acclaim and earned him a loyal readership.

Although “The World According to Garp” was not without its detractors, its impact on literature and culture cannot be overstated. The novel continues to be a thought-provoking and engaging read for audiences today.

Literary Significance

Since its publication in 1978, “The World According to Garp” has been regarded as a masterpiece of contemporary literature. The novel’s literary significance is rooted in its exploration of themes such as gender, sexuality, violence, and mortality, all of which are still relevant today. The story’s unique blend of tragedy and humor, as well as its use of metafiction, has also been praised by critics and readers alike.

“John Irving’s talent for telling a compelling story shines in ‘The World According to Garp.’ Through his vivid characterization and exceptional writing style, Irving tackles complex themes with sensitivity and wit.” – The New York Times

The Impact of “The World According to Garp”

“The World According to Garp” has had a significant impact on contemporary literature, both in terms of literary style and social commentary. The novel’s portrayal of taboo subjects and its use of unconventional narrative techniques inspired a new wave of writers to explore similar themes. Moreover, the book’s frank discussion of feminist issues and sexual liberation helped to elevate the discourse on these topics in literature and popular culture.

The Legacy of John Irving

John Irving’s novels, including “The World According to Garp,” have had a lasting impact on contemporary literature and popular culture. Irving is celebrated for his ability to blend humor and tragedy, and for his creation of complex and unforgettable characters. His influence can be seen in the works of numerous contemporary writers, particularly those who deal with themes related to gender, sexuality, and mortality.

Literary Significance of “The World According to Garp” Impact on Contemporary Literature Legacy of John Irving
Explores complex themes such as gender, sexuality, violence, and mortality Inspired a new wave of writers to explore taboo subjects and unconventional narrative techniques Celebrated for his ability to blend humor and tragedy, and for his creation of complex and unforgettable characters
Uses metafiction and a unique blend of tragedy and humor Elevated the discourse on feminist issues, sexual liberation, and other social commentary in literature and popular culture Influenced numerous contemporary writers, particularly those exploring themes related to gender, sexuality, and mortality

Comparison to the Film Adaptation

After the tremendous success of the novel, “The World According to Garp,” it was adapted into a movie in 1982 starring Robin Williams as T.S. Garp, Glenn Close as his mother Jenny Fields, and John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon.

The movie follows the overall plot of the book, but there are significant differences in some of the events and characters. For instance, the movie does not feature some of the complex subplots from the book, including the story of Garp’s son Walt and the feminist language wars.

Despite these differences, the film adaptation of “The World According to Garp” received critical acclaim and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Overall, while the movie is a faithful adaptation of the book’s main themes, the nuances and complexities of the novel were somewhat lost in translation. Yet, it’s worth watching for anyone who enjoyed the book to see how the story was envisioned on the big screen.

Audience and Recommendation

After analyzing “The World According to Garp” audiobook, it is recommended for readers who enjoy contemporary literary fiction with elements of humor, tragedy, and complex character development. This audiobook is perfect for those who appreciate John Irving’s writing style, which blends tragedy and comedy, and his unique storytelling approach.

The target audience for this audiobook is individuals who enjoy thought-provoking stories that explore complex themes of family, love, loss, and identity. It is also recommended for fans of books that examine human behavior in a way that is both humorous and somber.

For those who prefer fast-paced books, this audiobook may not be the best fit, as the story moves at a slower pace to allow readers to fully absorb the rich character development and themes.

Overall, “The World According to Garp” audiobook is a must-read for those who enjoy literary fiction that blends humor and tragedy in a unique way.

Influences and Similar Works

John Irving’s writing style in “The World According to Garp” draws inspiration from a range of literary, social, and political influences. The novel’s themes and motifs reflect Irving’s interest in topics such as feminism, sexual liberation, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

If you enjoyed “The World According to Garp,” you may also appreciate these similar books:

Book Title Author Similarities to “The World According to Garp”
The Cider House Rules John Irving Explores complex social issues and features well-developed characters
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen Examines dysfunctional family dynamics and societal expectations
Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy Contains dark and violent themes with a writing style that is both poetic and raw

These books share similar threads of thought with “The World According to Garp,” providing readers with a diverse range of perspectives and insights.

Audiobook Technical Details

For those interested in the technical details of “The World According to Garp” audiobook, here’s what you need to know:

Format Unabridged
Length 18 hours and 13 minutes
Narrator Michael Prichard
Publisher Blackstone Audio
Release Date December 9, 2011

The audiobook is available in CD and MP3 CD formats. It can also be downloaded through various platforms, including Audible and iTunes.

Overall, the technical aspects of the audiobook version of “The World According to Garp” are commendable, providing a seamless and engaging listening experience for fans of the novel.


Overall, “The World According to Garp” audiobook by John Irving is a poignant and entertaining read that combines elements of humor and tragedy seamlessly. The narrator’s performance enhances the experience, making it an excellent choice for audiobook listeners.

The character development is exceptional, capturing the essence of each character in a way that elicits both empathy and admiration. The plot structure is well-paced, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the story without feeling rushed.

John Irving’s writing style is unique, rich, and evocative, allowing him to explore various themes and motifs thoughtfully. The depth of emotion in the novel is palpable, leaving a lasting impact on readers.

It is worth noting that while the critical reception of “The World According to Garp” has been mixed, the novel’s literary significance cannot be denied. It remains a classic piece of contemporary literature that continues to be studied and appreciated by readers worldwide.

If you enjoy audiobooks that are thought-provoking and emotional, “The World According to Garp” is an excellent choice. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy literary fiction and character-driven narratives.

Overall, this audiobook deserves a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating for its exceptional writing, compelling characters, and emotional depth.

Thank you for joining me on this audiobook review journey of “The World According to Garp” by John Irving. I hope this review has provided you with useful insights, and I look forward to sharing more audiobook reviews with you soon.

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