Let’s talk about audiobooks performed by more than one narrator. You may ask, what kinds of audiobooks call for multiple voice actors? The first that come to my mind are audio editions of plays, which usually require a full cast of performers. The second are novels that have been turned into audiodramas, such as E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
Collections of short stories are a natural for multiple performers, and of course, fiction told from multiple viewpoints is another great choice for two or more narrators. Nonfiction can also benefit from a collaborative effort; THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY by Garret M. Graff is a particularly powerful example.
Today’s Take 5 celebrates some recent audiobooks that feature multiple narrators. As always, I recommend audiobooks from a variety of genres—I’m sure you’ll find at least one audiobook that fits your own listening style.
Jesse Ball’s THE DIVERS’ GAME is set in the dystopian future but finds its foundations in contemporary culture and the current U.S. administration’s policies that treat asylum seekers and immigrants as “less than.” The story is told in three parts—read in order by Sophie Amoss, Devon Hales, and Cassandra Campbell—each showing a different aspect of a future society built on fear, unequal power, cruelty, and lack of empathy.
Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed’s YES NO MAYBE SO mixes teen romance with larger contemporary issues, such as activism, democracy, and family. When childhood friends Maya (read by Tiya Sircar) and Jamie (read by Michael Crouch) are paired up to help get out the vote for an upcoming election, they find commonalities despite their different personalities and religious backgrounds. Sircar and Crouch believably convey the teens’ concerns and their slowly evolving relationship.
Step back in time to the French Revolution and meet six women who lived through those disruptive times. RIBBONS OF SCARLET by Kate Quinn and five other authors consists of six interconnected stories of the revolution, each told by a different eyewitness. The half-dozen narrators who perform this audiobook add a hint of French accent to the dialogue, each highlighting her character’s temperament and station in life. Although the audiobook is fiction, the women themselves are historical figures.
Meng Jin’s LITTLE GODS is part immigration story and part character study. After her mother dies, Liya travels from the United States to China to search for her father and to better understand her ambitious, smart mother, Su Lan. Su Lan’s life is revealed from the perspective of three people who knew her in different roles. Narrators Karen Huie, Francois Chau, and Emily Woo Zeller’s well-blended performances connect listeners to the full range of Su Lan’s experiences, from the Tiananmen Square demonstrations to single motherhood in a foreign land.
Nine narrators were tapped to perform the personal essays collected in APPLE, TREE: WRITERS ON THEIR PARENTS, edited by Lise Funderburg. This moving anthology gathers stories from 25 authors who write about their relationship with either or both of their parents. Through laughter or tears, the authors tell stories about their mother’s cooking, their father’s careers, or the strength of genetics. Some essays are snapshots in time, others are tributes to a beloved parent, and all underscore the strong links we have to those who gave us life.
What’s your favorite multi-narrator audiobook?