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The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018

Audiobooks New fiction audiobooks Recommended Listening

The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018

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The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018

Some of the biggest names in English fiction have released, or will be releasing, books in 2018. There are also a few standout debuts on the horizon that are definitely worth checking out. Here’s our roundup of the best fiction audiobooks of 2018 (so far).

The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018 – Big Names

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, narrated by Steve West

Canadian author Michael Ondaatje was recently awarded the Golden Man Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient. In Warlight, Ondaatje tells the story of Nathaniel, 14, and his older sister Rachel, who are left in the care of the mysterious figure, The Moth, after their parents move to Singapore following the end of World War II. At first apprehensive of their new guardian they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends. But do the siblings really know them?

What does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father? Over a decade later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey—through facts, recollection, and imagination—that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

Listen to a sample of the Warlight audiobook:

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler, narrated by Kimberly Farr

A delightful novel of one woman’s transformative journey, from the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory—surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. A bewitching novel of hope, self-discovery, and second chances, Clock Dance gives us Anne Tyler at the height of her powers.

Listen to a sample of the Clock Dance audiobook:

How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran, narrated by Louise Brealey

Caitlin Moran is on somewhat of a literary roll. Her breakout nonfiction book, How to Be A Woman, was a smash hit and she’s now back to writing fiction. How to Build a Girl was released in 2014 and this year sees the publication of its sequel How to Be Famous (she clearly likes the ‘how to’ formula!)

Johanna Morrigan is living the London dream – her own flat, a writing gig at the coolest magazine in the UK. But success doesn’t bring contentment, unfortunately. Enter the love interest, John Kite who has just made it big in 1994’s hot new BritPop scene. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Johanna hatches a plan: she will Saint Paul his Corinthians, she will Jimmy his Pinocchio—she will write a monthly column, by way of a manual to the famous, analyzing fame, its power, its dangers, and its amusing aspects. In stories, girls never win the girl—they are won. Well, Johanna will re-write the stories, and win John, through her writing.

Listen to a sample of the How to Be Famous audiobook:

The Only Story by Julian Barnes, narrated by Guy Mott

From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of An Ending, a novel about a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman who has long been there, a love story shot through with sheer beauty, profound sadness, and deep truth. One summer in the 60s, in a staid suburb south of London, Paul comes home from university, aged 19, and is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. In the mixed-doubles tournament he’s partnered with Susan Macleod, a fine player who’s 48, confident, ironic, and married, with two nearly adult daughters.

Decades later, with Susan now dead, Paul looks back at how they fell in love, how he freed her from a sterile marriage, and how – gradually, relentlessly – everything fell apart, as she succumbed to depression and worse while he struggled to understand the intricacy and depth of the human heart. It’s a piercing account of helpless devotion, and of how memory can confound us and fail us and surprise us (sometimes all at once), of how, as Paul puts it, “first love fixes a life forever.”

Listen to a sample of The Only Story audiobook:

The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018 – Debuts

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao, narrated by Soneela Nankani

Roa’s debut novel, with its unsettling title, demonstrates how the quirks, being born poor, driven and female, can influence and ultimately determine the lives of two girls, Poornima and Savitha.

“When Poornima was just a toddler, she was about to fall into a river. Her mother, beside herself, screamed at her father to grab her. But he hesitated: “I was standing there, and I was thinking…She’s just a girl. Let her go…That’s the thing with girls, isn’t it…You think, Push. That’s all it would take. Just one little push.”

With quotes like that, what are you waiting for? Listen to a sample 🙂

Listen to a sample of the Girls Burn Brighter audiobook:

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, narrated by Lara Sawalha

This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan; the story of two girls living eight hundred years apart—a modern-day Syrian refugee seeking safety and a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker—places today’s headlines in the sweep of history, where the pain of exile and the triumph of courage echo again and again.

A deep immersion into the richly varied cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, The Map of Salt and Stars follows the journeys of Nour and Rawiya as they travel along identical paths across the region eight hundred years apart, braving the unknown beside their companions as they are pulled by the promise of reaching home at last.

Listen to a sample of The Map of Salt and Stars audiobook:

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, narrated by Marisol Ramirez, Almarie Guerra, Ingrid Rojas Contreras

A mesmerizing debut set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both

Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation. Inspired by the author’s own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricably linked coming-of-age stories.

Listen to a sample of the Fruit of the Drunken Tree audiobook:

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li, narrated by Nancy Wu

From Lillian Li comes an exuberant and wise multigenerational debut audiobook about the complicated lives and loves of people working in everyone’s favorite Chinese restaurant.

The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay.

Generous in spirit, unaffected in its intelligence, multi-voiced, poignant, and darkly funny, Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.

Listen to a sample of the Number One Chinese Restaurant audiobook:

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo, narrated by Donnabella Mortel

How many lives fit in a lifetime?

When Hero De Vera arrives in America—haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents—she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter—the first American-born daughter in the family—can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.

An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.

Listen to a sample of America is Not the Heart audiobook:

If you were looking for a book about wayward cats, this isn’t it. Instead, Stray City is a warm, funny, and clever debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.

Listen to a sample of the Stray City audiobook:

The Best Fiction Audiobooks 2018 – The Rest

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, narrated by Kristin Kalbli

Another postwar novel, this time taking place in New England. In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

Anyone else feel a movie adaptation coming on?

Listen to a sample of The Summer Wives audiobook:

The Elizas by Sara Shepard, narrated by Jayme Mattler

New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.

Does Sara have another TV adaptation on her hands?

Listen to a sample of The Elizas audiobook:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, narrated by the author

From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Listen to a sample of The Mars Room audiobook:

Mary B: A Novel by Katherine J. Chen, narrated by Marisa Calin

The overlooked middle sister in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice casts off her prim exterior and takes center stage in this fresh retelling of the classic novel. 

What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her eldest sister, Jane, nor the high-spirited wit of second-born Lizzy. Even compared to her frivolous younger siblings, Kitty and Lydia, Mary knows she is lacking in the ways that matter for single, not-so-well-to-do women in nineteenth-century England who must secure their futures through the finding of a husband. As her sisters wed, one by one, Mary pictures herself growing old, a spinster with no estate to run or children to mind, dependent on the charity of others. At least she has the silent rebellion and secret pleasures of reading and writing to keep her company.

Set before, during, and after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Katherine J. Chen’s vividly original debut novel pays homage to a beloved classic while envisioning a life that is difficult to achieve in any era: that of a truly independent woman.

Listen to a sample of the Mary B: A Novel audiobook:

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, narrated by Deepti Gupta, Sunil Malhotra

Set before, during, and after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Katherine J. Chen’s vividly original debut novel pays homage to a beloved classic while envisioning a life that is difficult to achieve in any era: that of a truly independent woman.

As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

Listen to a sample of the A Place For Us audiobook:

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, narrated by Eleanor Matsuura, Nick Hendrix

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted audiobook about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Listen to a sample of the Our Kind of Cruelty audiobook:

Steve Partridge

Steve is from the UK and has lived in London, Bulgaria, and Berlin. He studied Christian theology at King’s College London and spent several years working in publishing. His articles, books reviews, interviews and essays have been published in a range of digital and print magazines. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Festival Writers Prize. His obsession with books and writing led him to start his own ‘BookTube’ channel on YouTube (to which you should probably subscribe). You can find him talking nonsense on Twitter @StPartridge. He looks after the hibooks blog and hosts The HiBooks Podcast. He was once told his spirit guide was a Native American chief (aren’t they always Native American chiefs?)

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