Neil Gaiman’s fantastic worlds are an absolute delight on audio, and listeners are especially lucky to get to experience his work this way. Not only is there so much to choose from across so many genres, but we often get multiple audio versions of a single book. And Gaiman is an expert interpreter of his own work—once you’ve listened to his nuanced narration, you’ll be able to conjure up his voice in your head anytime you read his words.
Where to start? Whether you’re a longtime fan of GOOD OMENS, Gaiman’s funny book about the apocalypse co-written with the late Terry Pratchett almost 30 years ago, or a new convert thanks to the sparkling new Amazon/BBC series, now is the perfect time to hear (or revisit) the audiobook.
First, listen to the unabridged, single-voice version by Martin Jarvis, recorded in 2009. You might notice how many of his voices mirror those in the series (and how much of the series script is adapted word-for-word from the original). Then, if your appetite still isn’t sated, try the BBC Radio dramatization, which stars Peter Serafinowicz and Mark Heap, and which even features cameo appearances from Gaiman and Pratchett. You can listen to our podcast episode about both versions of GOOD OMENS below:
For something darker that’s perfect for an extended road trip, Gaiman’s 2001 epic novel AMERICAN GODS, in which old gods clash with new ones, also comes in two unabridged versions: one narrated by Golden Voice George Guidall, and a Tenth Anniversary Edition performed by a full cast. Can’t get enough gods? Follow up with ANANSI BOYS, about trickster god Anansi, read by Lenny Henry, and NORSE MYTHOLOGY, read by Gaiman.
Gaiman’s novel THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is quieter, magical and contemplative and creepy. This is another one narrated by Gaiman himself, and it will stay with you long after you’ve finished listening.
One of my personal favorite Neil Gaiman audio performances is his reading of his novel for children, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, about an orphaned boy raised by ghosts in the local graveyard. The story and production are both infused with love—the graveyard denizens’ love for Bod, and Gaiman’s clear love for his characters. This one is also available as an excellent full-cast version starring Derek Jacobi. Gaiman’s body of work for young listeners includes audiobooks for all ages that will entertain and enthrall the whole family, from CHU’S DAY (adorable, ages 4-6) to FORTUNATELY, THE MILK (hilariously silly, ages 6+) to CORALINE (properly scary, ages 10+)—all of which are narrated by Gaiman.
In the mood for nonfiction? THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS and ART MATTERS collect Gaiman’s essays and speeches and will give listeners insights into Gaiman’s wide-ranging interests and his writing process—and maybe even inspire you to make your own art.
And then there are fan favorites NEVERWHERE and STARDUST, and so much more . . . take a deep dive into Neil Gaiman’s audiography, and you’ll have extraordinary listening for a long, long time to come. Thank you, Neil.
P.S. If you fell in love with Michael Sheen and David Tennant’s performances in the Good Omens series, don’t miss their own star turns on audio: Sheen gives a wonderfully immersive, Earphones Award-winning narration of Philip Pullman’s THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage, and Tennant brings his acting chops and Scottish charm to The Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon series by just-named UK Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell.
Jenn Dowell is managing editor of AudioFile.