This Audiobook Appreciation Month, I'll highlight narrators who elevate great stories with their evocative voices and skilled characterizations. All are professional actors, whose film, TV, and theater chops can be heard in the way they bring stories to life.
Bridgerton's Adjoa Andoh uses her commanding alto to great effect in recent audiobooks of varying genres. Reading Lauren Groff's Matrix,, opens a new window inspired by the true story of a 12th century French abbess, Andoh's steely tone brings a resigned intensity to Groff's heroine, Marie. Voicing a wholly different character in Talia Hibbert's romance Get A Life, Chloe Brown, opens a new window, Andoh perfectly captures Chloe's wry, yet vulnerable sensibility. Her Cockney accent as Chloe's love interest Red is spot on.
The myriad characters of Kiley Reid's Such A Fun Age are portrayed with warmth and humor by Nicole Lewis. Lewis's gentle and friendly voice shimmers through the whole production, especially as protagonist Emira, a young nanny. Emira, a Black woman, is wrongly accused of kidnapping her white employer's child while shopping at an upscale Philadelphia grocery store. Lewis honestly portrays each of the supporting character's reactions to this fraught situation, keeping the listener riveted.
Nancy Wu's deadpan tone immerses the listener in the post-apocalyptic world created by Ming La in her absurdist novel Severance, opens a new window. As Candace, a New Yorker who must embark on a journey with eight virtual strangers to survive the new world she finds herself in, a seen-it-all exhaustion punctuates Wu's sentences, but she never drops a syllable. In contrast, Wu's characterization of Keiko, heroine of Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman, opens a new window, (translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takamori) conveys her accommodating, off-center personality. Keiko's sunny optimism can be heard in Wu's lilting cadences.
Do you have a favorite narrator? Let us know in the comments. Happy Listening!