10 New Audiobooks for Spring 2024

AudioFile recommends 10 excellent new audiobooks for spring, including masterful new works from Hanif Abdurraqib, Percival Everett, and more. Whether you’re looking for a memoir told in the author’s own voice or a fascinating novel performed by professional narrators, you’ll find something perfect for your next great listen.

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and AscensioTheres Always This Year 246684n by Hanif Abdurraqib, read by the author [8.75 hrs.]

Hanif Abdurraqib’s latest book is a transcendent feat of poetry, memoir, and—well, magic. His narration is as breathless and beautiful as his prose. It’s an ode to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio; a love letter to basketball; a meditation on home and belonging; and an exploration of faith, Blackness, music, and place. You can hear the love in his voice; you can hear it get stuck in his throat. A masterpiece from one of America’s most creative, generous, and rigorous living writers. Don’t miss it.

James 246458James by Percival Everett, read by Dominic Hoffman [7.75 hrs.]

Dominic Hoffman narrates this reimagining of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but this time Jim tells his own story. When Jim learns that he’s going to be sold to someone downriver, he flees, but he soon finds himself tangled up with Huckleberry Finn. Hoffman’s performance captures the varying tone of Jim’s dialogue as he code-switches, highlighting the shifts in his vocabulary and rhythm. With its subtlety and attention to detail, Hoffman’s narration reinforces Jim’s character and narrative arcs as Jim takes back his agency in life.

A Poetry Handbook 246774A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry by Mary Oliver, read by Kimberly Farr [3.5 hrs.]

The best poets get that way because they have given a great deal of thought to questions such as: “What is poetry?” Mary Oliver was one of those best poets, and in this audio version of her classic work about how to write and read poetry she offers some answers to John Ciardi’s classic question: “How does a poem mean?” Kimberly Farr’s performance is wonderful, as witty and wise as the text. Her readings of the many poems (and pieces of poems) are clear and sensitive to the reasons Oliver has quoted them. Farr’s superb performance makes this truly useful poetry guide even better.

Ours 243749Ours by Phillip B. Williams, read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt [22.75 hrs.]

Joniece Abbott-Pratt performs this multigenerational novel set in the American South. In the 1830s, a mysterious woman named Saint frees enslaved people and brings them to a safe haven they call Ours. But when Saint tightens her control of the townspeople, they begin to wonder what it means to be a free Black person in America. Abbott-Pratt’s cadence enthralls listeners, giving weight to this sweeping epic. Her performance is a stunning example of a masterful narrator at her best.

Wandering Stars 243826Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange, read by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, MacLeod Andrews, Alma Cuervo, Curtis Michael Holland, Calvin Joyal, Phil Ava, Emmanuel Chumaceiro, Christian Young, and Charley Flyte [9.5 hrs.]

This audiobook reveals that Orange is among the most insightful novelists writing today and a poet of pain. Among this segmented novel’s stellar performances, Charley Flyte’s reading of Victoria Bear Shield’s dramatic monologue to her unborn daughter is a tour de force. Alma Cuervo portrays Jacquie Red Feather and Victoria—the unborn infant, now a grandmother—with candor, compassion, and a thoughtful pace. Set in Oakland, Orange’s immersive novel is a compelling look at the experience of urban Indians—a powerful listening experience.

Parasol Against the Axe 246669Parasol Against the Axe by Helen Oyeyemi, read by Dorje Swallow [8.25 hrs.]

Dorje Swallow’s performance of this metafiction centers this whirligig of a novel in which story begets story. His assured narration—in particular, his ability to do voices and accents and adapt his tone to whatever the scene—makes this audiobook marvelous to listen to. Hero Tojosoa ostensibly comes to Prague to join her friend, Sofie, for a weekend. When Dorothea Gilmartin arrives as well, the plot thickens, splatters, and all manner of mayhem ensues. Not to worry, Dorje Swallow’s steady delivery takes the listener through the looking glass in fine fettle.

Grief Is for PeopleNew Audiobooks by Sloane Crosley, read by the author [5.75 hrs.]

Narrating her memoir, Sloane Crosley delivers ironic humor that balances the horror of back-to-back traumas. Admitting the unlikelihood and disorientation of what happened, Crosley links the vulnerability she felt at a burgled apartment and, a month later, at the suicide of her boss and friend, Russell. Crosley’s fresh imagery and pithy one-liners are delivered with perfect timing, sometimes rapid fire and at other times with introspective pauses. Crosley’s wit and sometimes witlessness are as reconcilable and relatable as her raw reactions and wishful imaginings.

New AudiobooksThe Morningside by Téa Obreht, read by Carlotta Brentan [8.5 hrs.]

This near-future dystopian novel is set in a time of ecological disaster in the mostly underwater community of Island City. Carlotta Brentan smoothly portrays the protagonist, who begins as a gangly 11-year-old named Sylvia. Brentan contrasts Sylvia’s size and temperament with those of her secretive and diminutive Eastern European-sounding mother. The once stately Morningside building is now home to “repopulated” folks who are part of a government program. Mysteries shroud this imaginative work.

New AudiobooksTable for Two: Fictions by Amor Towles, read by Edoardo Ballerini and J. Smith-Cameron [13.5 hrs.]

Golden Voice narrator Edoardo Ballerini uses his full range of techniques in Towles’s short story collection. By turns nuanced and dramatic, Ballerini always serves the author’s fine prose. Ballerini shines in the opening work, “New York: The Line,” about an average Russian, named Pushkin, who has a gift for helping others with Russia’s long food lines. These works are smaller bore than Towles’s novels, but they too have his touch: finely detailed characters, distinct settings, and deserved comeuppances. J. Smith-Cameron narrates an additional story.

New AudiobooksThe Great Divide by Cristina Henríquez, read by Robin Miles [13.25 hrs.]

Golden Voice narrator Robin Miles’s evocative performance of Cristina Henríquez’s novel about the building of the Panama Canal takes its time, which feels right for a book with many threads. Miles’s lovely, warm voice illuminates the action by adopting varied accents and wildly different personalities. Sixteen-year-old Asa from Barbados wants to earn money for a sister’s operation; local fisherman Francisco hates the canal; Tennessee scientist John is intent on eradicating malaria while his neglected wife battles the illness. These and many other stories intertwine in this moving and deeply researched tale.

This piece was produced in partnership with AudioFile Magazine.

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