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Find more Top 10 First Novels on Audio
Full casts, richly evoked settings, and compelling character work are highlights of these audiobooks of debut novels, all of which received starred reviews between November 1, 2018 and October 15, 2019.
The Age of Light. By Whitney Scharer. Read by Thérèse Plummer. 2019. 12hr. Hachette, CD, $35 (9781549173424).
Plummer’s narration transforms photographer Lee Miller from a naïve model to hardened adult. The ever-changing tones, from languid to tense, are all clearly expressed.
Beijing Payback. By Daniel Nieh. Read by Ewan Chung. 2019. 9hr. Harper, CD, $59.99 (9781982659202).
Polyglot Chung displays various accents in Nieh’s internationally peripatetic mystery. With admirable control, Chung turns Nieh’s didn’t-see-that-coming debut into a bone-shaking wild ride.
The Farm. By Joanne Ramos. Read by Fran de Leon. 2019. 13hr. Books on Tape, DD, $95 (9781984886651).
A clash of race, ethics, class, and ambition drives a scintillating debut, made even more impressive by de Leon, who gifts each character with a distinct tone, accent, and personality.
The Girls at 17 Swann Street. By Yara Zgheib. Read by Saskia Maarleveld. 2019. 8hr. Macmillan, CD, $29.99 (9781250314192).
Maarleveld takes on the complex and desperate narration of a woman battling anorexia in a residential facility. She compellingly taps into the tenor of the emotional repercussions of this disease.
McGlue. By Ottessa Moshfegh. Read by Chris Ciulla. 2019. 4hr. Books on Tape, DD, $57 (9780525641155).
Moshfegh’s 2014 debut novella, newly released as an audiobook, reminds listeners of her auspicious beginnings. Ciulla is enthralling in this brief, mysterious, and memorable listen.
The Old Drift. By Namwali Serpell. Read by a full cast. 2019. 25hr. Books on Tape, DD, $95 (9780451485144).
In this multigenerational epic, a diverse full cast commands attention, giving voice to women who refuse to be ignored, elided, erased.
Queenie. By Candice Carty-Williams. Read by Shvorne Marks. 2019. 10hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $23.99 (9781508277972).
Debut narrator Marks embraces a full roster of with relish. The production is enhanced by modern life’s techie sound effects.
The Secrets We Kept. By Lara Prescott. Read by a full cast. 2019. 11hr. Books on Tape, DD, $95 (9781984885937).
The full cast complements the numerous perspectives in this Pasternak-inspired debut. Authentic, consistent accents are essential to this globe-trotting work.
The Tensorate Series. By Jy Yang. Read by Nancy Wu. 2018. 13.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $49.99 (9781684413225).
In a complex and innovative trilogy, Wu’s measured tones make the fantastical seem commonplace.
Where the Crawdads Sing. By Delia Owens. Read by Cassandra Campbell. 2018. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $50 (9780593103036).
An unsolved murder climaxes in a southern courtroom, where Campbell delivers Sunday justice to Owen’s masterpiece.
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