Dion Graham's haunting narration reveals the heartbreaking costs paid by soldiers who experience the horror of trench warfare. Alfa is a "Chocolat," a Senegalese man fighting for the French in WWI alongside his childhood friend, Mademba. When Mademba dies under impossibly painful circumstances, Graham channels Alfa's enormous grief and subsequent descent into madness as every... Read More
Narrator JD Jackson addresses his listener as "bro" in this decidedly contemporary retelling of the classic saga. Headley's translation has received attention for recasting female characters like Grendel's mother into strong women warriors, rather than the usual monsters and hags. More remarkable is her infusion of a modern idiom and storytelling style into the traditional... Read More
Bronson Pinchot elegantly narrates this mysterious novella. His fine French accent gives this brooding backward-glancing story by Nobel Prize winner Modiano a fine sense of time and place. Set in contemporary Paris, the story recounts the haunting experience of Jean, once a struggling writer, who now uses his notebook as a map to return to his long-ago dangerous liaison with... Read More
Michael Crouch and Tyler Kent narrate this novel about a couple who must keep their love a secret in this triggering but honest look at the ethnic war in Kosovo in the mid-1990s. Portraying Milos, Crouch shows off his vocal control as he exudes the bottled rage that arises out of abuse and persecution. Listeners should keep tissues handy as Crouch's heartbreaking narration will... Read More
Narrator Caitlin Kelly's youthful-sounding voice is perfect for this novel about 13-year-old Emma, who lives in an orphanage in an unnamed former communist country. Out of the blue, a mysterious older woman who is claiming to be her grandmother takes Emma away. Then magic subtly begins to enter Emma's new life. Kelly conveys Emma's childlike wonder at the changes she... Read More
Narrator Nikki Massoud's strong, clear voice brings listeners the determination of journalist Delphine Minoui as she pieces together the unlikely story of an underground library in Daraya, the city where the Syrian civil war began. Massoud sounds confident, firm, and consistent as Minoui describes her travels through the Middle East's conflict-torn libraries. Eventually,... Read More
Through narrator Laurence Bouvard's varied performance, listeners are treated to a family saga and a history of the development of Oman. Mayya, Asma, and Khawla are three sisters whose lives and concerns are vividly brought to life by Bouvard. She is a talented female narrator who is up for the challenge of depicting these very different women with distinct personalities.... Read More
Gisela Chìpe does a beautiful job narrating this touching--and at times hilarious--novel about fatherhood. The story takes place in Maipú, Chile, and shifts between the 1990s and the present day, centering on aspiring poet Gonzalo and his stepson, Vicente. Gonzalo helps raise Vicente for several years but suddenly goes to New York. Later, when Gonzalo returns to Chile, he... Read More
Drawing from his childhood in Tokyo, as well as his acting experience, Brian Nishii delivers a flawless narration. In this Japanese bestseller, a dead soul wins a lottery and gets a second chance. Prapura, an angel, guides the soul as it occupies the body of Makoto Kobayashi, a 14-year-old who recently attempted suicide. The soul must learn from its past mistakes in order to be... Read More
This audio collection from Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano brings together three novellas with political overtones: the eponymous COWBOY GRAVES, chronicling the protagonist's life leading up to his return to Chile when the coup hits; FRENCH COMEDY OF HORRORS, in which a poet answers a ringing pay phone and learns of a secret society called the Clandestine Surrealist Group in... Read More
Natalie Naudus is a quirky, spirited narrator who plays up the thread of comedy running throughout this unusual story about disaster tourism. She becomes Yona, a young Korean woman who finds herself working for a disreputable travel agency. Listeners are treated to a humorously presented view of a future in which tourists travel to disaster sites for entertainment. There is a... Read More
Narrator Ramón de Ocampo ramps up the tension in this literary crime story based on a true account. Five male friends in Bogotá, Colombia, bond over drink, drugs, and women. When one of them, Muñeco, crosses the line by torturing and raping a child, their loyalty to one another is tested. De Ocampo skillfully creates a haunting atmosphere as he relays the intense emotions of... Read More
Narrator Frankie Corzo brings her velvety voice to this Argentinian story featuring a character who has visions of violence that has taken place against women. As a child, Eartheater discovers that her desire to consume earth is matched by an ability to magically see into the lives of others. After alarming her school by revealing her teacher's grisly death, she's expelled, and... Read More
Yareli Arizmendi takes on the daunting narration of Martinez-Belli's epic historical novel recounting the tempestuous reign of Maximillian of Austria and his princess, Charlotte, better known as Empress Carlota of Mexico. To quash the current Mexican regime, Napoleon III places Maximillian and Charlotte on the throne. Married to a man who does not love her and who will not bed... Read More
A talented team of narrators tackle this psychological suspense, which blends family drama, politics, and murder. With its shifting points of view and timeframes, this audiobook has many twists. In Oslo, Clara and Henrik have been married for a decade and have young sons. Clara works with the Ministry of Justice--and has political ambitions--while Henrik is a doctor. A young... Read More
In this adventure-filled and absorbing listen, Katherine Littrell's versatile narration engages listeners with the harsh beauty of life in mid-nineteenth-century New Zealand. A wide cast of characters, from German and English immigrants to native New Zealanders, including members of the Maori tribe, is expertly portrayed by Littrell. She voices male and female characters... Read More
While working as an Arabic translator for the Paris police department, Patience Portefeux finds the solution to her own financial woes and a way to fund her mother's increasing care costs as she creates a double life for herself as an unlikely drug-gang boss. Narrator Julia Franklin does a wonderful job of bringing 53-year-old Patience and a wide selection of colorful... Read More
Narrators Earl Kim and Greta Jung humanize Han Kang's moving story about two people who are suffering physical and mental anguish. After an unnamed Korean woman experiences several traumatic life blows, her language disappears. She enrolls in a Greek language class with an instructor who has just learned he's going blind. As the two stories alternate, Jung enters the mind of... Read More
Narrator Gabriel Porras guides listeners through the eloquent essays novelist Juan Villoro wrote to share his wonder at his own Mexico City. Villoro has been exquisitely translated by Alfred MacAdam, the imagistic writing perfectly captured in its move from Spanish to English. Porras narrates with a moderate accent; his pacing and intonation are faithful to Villoro's phrasing... Read More
Mirai's performance provides significant depth to Akari, a Japanese high school student who follows a celebrity with a singular intensity. Masaki Ueno is a member of a famous J-pop group. To Akari, he is her "oshi" (meaning "to push" in Japanese). In the cultural context, Masaki is the person to whom Akari devotes her energy, tracking his every media appearance, posting... Read More
Anton Lesser gives a successful and engaging presentation of one the world's oldest stories. Johnston's modern translation maintains several traditions of the ancient rhetorical style, and Lesser honors the patterns of repeated names and titles without hurrying or rushing through the many honorifics. Lesser smoothly moves from narrating the action to voicing the different... Read More
Narrator Haaz Sleiman's voice is consistently gentle and sad, yet he also finds the biting humor in this wonderful memoir. Gzar's story is a fascinating journey that takes listeners to the Middle East, Japan, and, ultimately, the Midwest U.S. Facing constant oppression is his native Iraq for his homosexuality, Gzar, intellectual and curious, seeks a life elsewhere, eventually... Read More
In Bogota, Colombia, Hector and his four siblings must fend for themselves after being abandoned by their father. They find themselves hungry every day but seek to stay together at any cost. Narrator Johnny Rey Diaz provides expressive vocal characterizations for the siblings' dialogue and delivers clear, comfortably paced narrative. In a parallel story, Nina, a girl living in... Read More
Suzanne Toren is an experienced narrator, one of the AUDIOFILE's Golden Voices, who confidently takes the listener into this complicated family drama about a girl in provincial France in the early 1900s. Listeners hear the ups and downs of Maud's early years with an absent father and a negligent mother. In dreamy tones, Toren creates sympathy for the young Maud, who tries to... Read More
Dutch narrator Mounya Dahma's narration lends an authentic sense of culture and place to Marjolijn van Heemstra's meditations on the universe. Van Heemstra becomes fascinated by NASA astronauts' shift in perspective after they view the Earth from space, and she seeks to develop her own routes to this overview effect. She gets involved in campaigns for dark skies, becomes... Read More
Narrator Hillary Huber takes on the persona of bestselling author Elena Ferrante for this collection of short columns written for the Italian newspaper THE GUARDIAN. The elusive Ferrante, who uses a pseudonym, is best known for the Neapolitan Quartet novels, which include MY BRILLIANT FRIEND. She writes here on a variety of subjects ranging from her own writing process to... Read More
KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER is a masterpiece of storytelling. It was published in 1922, and its author won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928. Her work has lost none of its power or appeal since. That the 1997 Tiina Nunnally translation is now available as an audiobook is a literary event, since an immersive saga of such length and depth will be particularly appealing to many in... Read More
Marie NDiaye offers a generational story of a family of women who seem to be living under a cloud of ill fortune. Narrator Tavia Gilbert illuminates the thoughts and emotions of Ladivine Sylla, an immigrant to France from a third-world country, as well as those of her female descendants. In this elegant translation by Jordan Stump, Gilbert makes NDiaye’s exquisite lyrical prose... Read More
Narrator Mark Meadows's commanding baritone maintains the listener's attention from Andre Aciman's detailed introduction to the final lines of Gianfranco Calligarich's novel. This "forgotten classic of Italian literature" explores 1970s Italian ennui. Leo and his friend, Graziano, know something's wrong with the way they're living. They realize it's time to change their la... Read More
Saul Reichlin returns to narrate the seventh book in the Joona Linna series by the Swedish writing couple known as Lars Kepler. Reichlin meets the challenge of voicing numerous characters, including a 12-year-old girl and a number of psychopaths, male and female. Warning to listeners: The plot moves from one scene of depraved, graphic violence to another. An old enemy of... Read More
Narrator Sean Rohani infuses this book of poetry with a heartfelt focus that envelops the listener. He brings the work of Garous Abdolmalekian, a new Iranian poet, to international audiences. Rohani's narration of the poems is well paced; their tone is soft and dreamy. One could listen to this title while taking a long walk or trying to ease into sleep. The poems vary in length... Read More
It's hard to imagine a better narrator for Stefano Massini's novel in verse than Edoardo Ballerini. Ballerini delivers this massive fictional history with accurate accents, subtlety, and nuance. The German-Jewish immigrant experience is magnified through the lens of the Lehman brothers--Henry, Emanuel, and Mayer--and their descendants, whose rise from grocers to cotton traders... Read More
Kate Mulligan is an energetic and sincere narrator for a title that touts the value of doing nothing. She explains the Dutch philosophy of "niksen," which exhorts people to clear their minds as a way of increasing their happiness. Mulligan sounds like an excited friend who has found a new theory she can't wait to explain. She sounds warm and engaging, all the while maintaining... Read More
Narrator Angela Dawe raises the stakes in this atmospheric horror novel. Sixty years ago, 900 people of the Silverjarn village in Sweden disappeared--except for a woman and a baby. Filmmaker Alice Lindstedt, who aims to solve the puzzle, recruits a team to produce a film about the "lost village." But they all get more than they bargained for. Dawe's storytelling is superb. She... Read More
Leonardo Lucarelli's no-holds-barred story of his slapdash journey from an unconventional childhood in India to restaurant kitchens in Rome and beyond may make listeners question the sanity of professional chefs--but not their passion for cooking. Narrator Will Damron's soft voice and casual cadence invite listeners into a world of demanding bosses and unsteady finances,... Read More
Julia Lovell's fresh translation of this classic Chinese fantasy epic, paired with Robert Wu's lively performance, delivers hours of listening entertainment. Wu embodies the titular Monkey King's verve, arrogance, and wit as he seeks immortality. His puckish antics soon draw the ire of the Jade Emperor and other spirits. The resulting punishment leads Monkey on a redemptive... Read More
Kimberly Farr convincingly renders every accent and personality of the many diverse characters in this unusual novel. In 1904, Sally Jones, a gorilla who can read and write, is caged until compassionate sea captain Henry Koskela purchases her. Farr's Sally Jones is fully believable as she recounts her story on an Underwood typewriter. When Koskela is falsely imprisoned for... Read More
Narrator Simon Vance gives these never-before-published stories by Proust charm of their own with his amiable tone and gentle cadence. This short work includes contextual explanations of themes that are seen in later works, including IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME. In "The Awareness of Loving Her," Vance captures the first-person narrator's sense of loss and earnestness as he searches... Read More
Elie Wiesel’s memoir of life in the Nazi death camps has been reissued with a new translation by Wiesel’s wife, Marion. Read by George Guidall, this new edition is a brilliant and haunting reminder of these horrific crimes, as well as a testament to Wiesel’s faith and resilience. Guidall is the ideal reader, and gives yet another masterful performance. Every word Guidall utters... Read More
With penetrating urgency and an innate feel for the author's tragicomic yet hyperrealistic interior dialogue, narrator Neil Hellegers gives heartrending voice to this rediscovered novel, written in 1938 in the wake of Kristallnacht. Otto Silbermann, who is desperate to avoid the Third Reich's roundup of German Jews, searches for a train to take him across the border to safety... Read More
Narrator Stefan Rudnicki's deep and resonant voice gives Driessen's short novel the aura of a folktale. Set in a nondescript town in the former Yugoslavia on the eve of the war in the 1980s, the audiobook features two ordinary men, Andrej, the postman, and Josip, the funicular operator. The pair spend their lives circling each other in an unending cycle of blackmail. At times,... Read More
Sophie Amoss gives her all as she performs this middle-grade fantasy thriller with style and heart. She imbues Albert with compassion for Manon, the girl he finds in the forest, and captures his wife's disdain for her. Manon speaks with a whispery lightness to animals as she tries to learn who/what she is and why she is being hunted. The wide range of characters exhibits deep... Read More
Kyla García performs Maria Gainza's brief, richly detailed jewel of a novel with just the right touch of insouciance to capture the essence of the duplicitous unnamed narrator. The story takes place in the clandestine world of art forgery in Buenos Aires and features the lives of its eccentric artists and would-be forgers. García delivers the story as if the narrator, an art... Read More
At age 50, Elin is a famed photographer with a seemingly idyllic life. Few people know she grew up painfully poor in Sweden. Narrator Joan Walker masterfully portrays Elin's struggles with her identity; listeners quickly become accustomed to Walker's delivery of busy Elin's hurried and strained tones. When a letter from a childhood friend arrives, it sends Elin into a downward... Read More
Narrators Jackie Chung, Janet Song, and Greta Jung work together to present these short stories, which offer glimpses into the lives of contemporary Korean women. From the tragic ferry sinking that listeners might remember from the news a while back to quieter personal conflicts, the narrators create a rich vocal range for the mostly female characters. Chung, Song, and Jung... Read More
Lara Sawalha narrates a sweeping and rich tapestry of historical fiction entrenched in a city now lost to time. Set in Smyrna, present-day Izmir, Turkey, during the first half of the twentieth century, the story follows Levantine, Greek, Turkish, and Armenian families. Suman's novel recounts the intertwining destinies of Edith, Avinesh, Scheherazade, Katina, and more. Sawalha... Read More
Narrator Ulf Bjorklund takes listeners on a leisurely stroll through a small Icelandic town. The performance is composed of several short stories featuring various townsfolk that give listeners windows into each of their lives. From the neighborhood gossipers to pensive resident scientists to nosy postmen, every relationship is intimately performed, and discovering the... Read More
Narrator Cindy Kay performs this deceptively titled work with a fine sense of pacing and an understated affect. The warmth in her voice grounds the unnamed narrator's sometimes fantastic experiences. The decision to modulate and slow down the male voices makes them a kind of counterpoint to the calm and confidential tone of the 36-year- old female protagonist, whom we follow on... Read More
Erin Bennett's performance of Ahava's audiobook is wide ranging; she's able to convey childlike wonder, as well as the deeper wounds of adulthood. The audiobook captures the inexplicable nature of human existence, death, and grieving through several interlaced short stories. In the opening scenes, a family moves into an old house, a dwelling not unlike a living thing, which... Read More
André Santana provides an energetic voice for a small Brazilian house as it tells the interconnecting stories of its teen inhabitants in three different time periods. Author Vitor Martins's story is warm, compelling, and highly unusual as each of the teens reaches a new stage of comfort with their sexual identity. What this means at the cusp of the new millennium, in 2010, and... Read More
Can a first-person narrator like Oskar Matzerath, who is confined to psychiatric hospital, be considered reliable? Did the events he recounts really happen to him? Did the characters he describes really live? We can be sure that Oskar lived through WWII in Danzig and later went to Düsseldorf, but not much else. Breon Mitchell's new translation of THE TIN DRUM shows it to be the... Read More
Narrator Peter Kenny captures this historical fantasy novel, which takes place in the 1400s. Kenny's ability to provide well-differentiated voices for the many characters will thoroughly engage listeners. Reynevan, a healer and magician, is on the run for his life. Kenny's choice of accent, tone, and timbre accurately depicts Reynevan and his complex personality. A story full... Read More
Raquel Beattie masterfully engages listeners with her calm, clear voice as she performs this audiobook. For the first-person protagonist, living in Chile during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet is like living in another dimension--not unlike the one depicted in the 1960s television series "The Twilight Zone." Nothing is what it seems; people change their names, have... Read More
Nicholas Guy Smith narrates this oddball adventure of two Dutch septuagenarians who accidentally find themselves in possession of a baby girl. Hendrik and Evert are looking forward to an enjoyable evening of camaraderie and relaxation. On his way to Hendrik's apartment, Evert ducks into a school bathroom to relieve himself, but after a series of small and extremely funny... Read More
Narrator Emily Woo Zeller imbues this ambitious debut novel with meditative gravitas. In the year 2201, Luoying has returned to her home on Mars after spending five years on Earth as a student ambassador. Rather than being overjoyed at seeing her home planet, Luoying and her fellow ambassadors become disillusioned with their world, which is not the utopia they had thought.... Read More
Nano Nagle delivers this story with confidence, helping to build tension and atmosphere. In modern-day Norway, Bergljot, long estranged from her family, starts to piece together her past and her struggle to be believed. What starts out as an apparent family feud over the inheritance of two lake cabins turns into something much darker. Nagle's strong characterization ensures... Read More
Narrators Edoardo Ballerini and Maria Liatis couldn't be better in Isabel Allende's intricate, heartrending novel. From 1938 Europe to 2019 America, numerous upended lives are woven into a fascinating tapestry. Samuel Adler must leave Nazi Germany via the Kindertransport; Leticia Cordero narrowly escapes the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador; because of the Trump government's... Read More
With a touch of wistfulness and melancholy, Katherine Littrell narrates this fictional account of three Swedish explorers lost in the Arctic in 1897. Helene Gaudy based her story on the bits of a journal and luminous, barely discernible photos found 33 years after the adventurers disappeared. Littrell's thoughtful, methodical pace reflects their interminable plodding across the... Read More
Hearing Guy Mott narrate this heartrending stream-of-consciousness novel is like witnessing Ted Hughes, the poet himself, rising from the dead and disclosing his version of his legendary marriage to American poet Sylvia Plath. Mott's Ted speaks in a clear English accent, which shows traces of Ted's Yorkshire upbringing. The tone is confessional. The mood evoked is one of... Read More
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