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December 2018/January 2019

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December 2018 / January 2019 n 33 WASHINGTON BLACK Esi Edugyan Read by Dion Graham This memorable audiobook takes a young slave from captivity to freedom as narra- tor Dion Graham wrings every heartfelt emotion from the story. Edugyan's work embodies the fear and brutality of 1800s slavery, using beautifully turned phrases and clear-eyed observations—which Graham takes to another level—to give voice to the horror and high adventure of Washington Black's life. Graham modulates the tension in his voice as a single fateful event causes Black and his mentor to leave the plantation and traverse the globe. Graham lets the characters mature in his delivery as Washington travels from the steamy sugar cane fields of Barbados to the arctic plains of Canada. Listeners will be rooting for this most unlikely of heroes. R.O. 2018 Best Audiobook Random House Audio 12.25 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525642947 $22.50 Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525642954 $95.00 HIS FAVORITES Kate Walbert Read by Gabra Zackman Narrator Gabra Zackman infuses this story of quiet sexual violence with per- fectly pitched numbness and despair. In the summer of 1978, a reckless prank goes terribly wrong, resulting in the death of 15-year-old Jo's best friend. Lost and emotionally numb, Jo retreats to a posh boarding school, where she attracts the attention of pop- ular Master Aikens, who is known to bestow unwanted sexual favors on his "favor- ites." Jo's efforts to seek help are predictably but devastat- ingly met with a chilling dismissiveness that rever- berates for years to come. Zackman's understated delivery com- plements the book's bleak atmosphere, allowing the casual cruelty of Master, the school administrators, and Jo's class- mates to surface without interference or adornment. A timely story that weighs heavily despite its brevity. S.A.H. Simon & Schuster Audio 3.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781508265092 $14.99 A TERRIBLE COUNTRY Keith Gessen Read by Ari Fliakos Narrator Ari Fliakos strikes the right tone between pathos and irony in his narra- tion of Gessen's novel. Russian-born Andrei, a struggling Ph.D. candidate liv- ing in New York City, returns to Moscow to care for his grandmother. Fliakos draws the listener in with his warm con- versational tone; one can imagine oneself sitting with Andrei and Baba Seva at her kitchen table. Yet Andrei's ambivalence at returning to the "terrible country" of his birth informs Fliakos's reading as the conflict between his personal and professional obligations comes to a head. Fliakos's rendering of Baba Seva is both heartbreaking and hilarious, leaving an indelible impression of this frail and feisty elderly woman. This fully realized performance of a compelling novel will no doubt find many fans. D.G.P. Penguin Audio 11.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525630890 $22.50 Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525630906 $95.00 SHE WOULD BE KING Wayétu Moore Read by Wayétu Moore Author Wayétu Moore narrates this unique novel, which imagines Liberia's early history. She confidently moves from realistic historical scenes to scenes filled with magical realism while weaving together three very different main char- acters. Gbessa, June Dey, and Norman Aragon are all outcasts whom fate brings together. Moore's soothing, restive, and contemplative tones give listeners a sense of the mystical realm of spirits while allowing us to envision the com- plex threads of the narrative. Her delivery adds to listeners' desire to see if the three characters will find freedom as their new country seeks to be liberated from the shadow of American influence. M.R. Brilliance Audio 9.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781978621671 $35.99 (also MP3, DD) Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781721301041 $79.99 THE DINNER LIST Rebecca Serle Read by Rebecca Serle With delicate intimacy, author Rebecca Serle narrates a story that involves a surreal- ist dinner party and reflections on a decade of love and heartache. Sabrina Nielsen once answered the parlor game question: Which five people, living or dead, would you like to have join you for dinner? Now on her thirtieth birthday, Sabrina's ex-fi- ancé, best friend, estranged father, former philosophy professor, and, remarkably, Audrey Hepburn eat together and reminisce on their bit- tersweet lives. Serle depicts the dreamy dinner and the vignettes of Sabrina's past with equally light touches of whimsy. Her narration captures Sabrina's deeply felt pain, remorse, spirit of friend- ship, and passionate love. Though the dinner guests aren't as richly voiced, magic and emotive undertones make this audiobook bewitching. E.A.N. Macmillan Audio 5.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781250299383 $29.99 (also DD) Narrator Dion Graham wrings every heartfelt emotion from the story. Fiction Watch narrator comments at audiofilemagazine.com/blog VIDEOS @ BLOG

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