During Week 2 of the 2023 SYNC season of free audiobooks, teens and other participants can settle in to hear imaginative contemporary reworkings of classic fiction. Move THE FAMILY CHAO, from Recorded Books, and FARAWAY: Fairy Tales for the Here and Now, from Brilliance, to your Sora shelf and right into your headphones to discover how everything old can sound new again.
The classic novel THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoevsky has been re-imagined by Lan Samantha Chang as THE FAMILY CHAO. With a wide range of satisfyingly individualized voices, Brian Nishii leads us through the story of identity and all the difficulties both family relationships and external social circumstances can make for its members. Instead of Dostoevsky’s late-19th-century Russia, Chang’s family runs a Chinese restaurant in today’s American Midwest. However, a self-centered and self-serving father, three brothers with varied personalities and values, and a religion and its traditions riff on elements of the classic. Thanks to the excellence of Nishii’s narration, listeners can sink into the deeper questions suggested by this tale, some of which are specifically American and modern, and some as old as the human condition. You may well decide to explore the classic after experiencing Chang and Nishii’s re-imagined version.
In contrast with a novel related to a classic you may not have read beforehand, FARAWAY is a compilation of short stories by an array of contemporary authors who have respun traditional fairy tales you have met in movies, books, and other media. You probably recognize many of these authors as well: Rainbow Rowell, Nic Stone, Soman Chainani, Ken Liu, and Gayle Forman. Each tells a tale with classic roots and characterizations, including evil stepmothers, trolls, and witches. Some of these tales are read by individual narrators and some by a full cast. The narrator lineup, in either style, is magnificent and includes Fajer Al-Kaisi, Josh Bloomberg, Alexander Cendese, Greg Chun, Frankie Corzo, Michael Crouch, Andrew Eiden, Robin Eller, Graham Halstead, Brian Holden, Rebecca Lowman, Ryan Jordan McCarthy, Jess Nahikian, Timothy Andrés Pabon, Kate Rudd, Neil Shah, and Kimberly Woods. Many of these narrators have performed lots of other audiobooks with high teen appeal, so be sure to look them up in AudioFile or at your library. You’ll discover they each provide hours of award-winning audiobook listening.
What attracts a professional narrator to young adult performances? Among FARAWAY’s storytellers, Michael Crouch speaks to that below.