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AUDIOBOOKS: Traveling the globe

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By Saturday, Sep 1, 2018 Arts & Entertainment

We travel the globe this week with tales from Canada, New York City, Somalia and the old West.

News of the World
Paulette Jiles; read by Grover Gardner
Brilliance Audio; five CDs; six hours; $29.99/www.audible.com download; $16.06

Captain Jefferson Kidd is a lonely widower who travels through Texas in 1870, reading the news to earn a living. He suddenly finds himself saddled with a 10-year-old girl who was captured by the Kiowa and must be returned to her German-immigrant family. A surprising bond forms between the two as they face danger and adventure while crossing hostile territory. Jiles, who is also a poet, writes expressively and compellingly of a time that she clearly researched thoroughly. Gardner, a favorite narrator, has a distinctive voice that is full of personality that delivers sophistication or Germanic gruffness as needed. Grade: A-minus

The Sun is Also a Star
Nicola Yoon; read by Bahni Turpin, Raymond Lee, with Dominic Hoffman
Listening Library; seven CDs; eight hours; $40/www.audible.com download; $28

Three narrators were wisely used in this lovely young-adult novel about youthful romance, bad timing and (a little too much) coincidence. Natasha meets Daniel, a first-generation Korean-American, on the day she is to be deported back to Jamaica. The two teenagers embark on an adventure while trying to figure out how they will fit into each others’ lives. Turpin is aptly turbulent and raw, furious that she cannot stay in a country that has become her home. She is a perfect foil to the more even-toned Lee. Hoffman, who masters several voices and accents, narrates other characters used as background to the main story. Grade: A-minus

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid
Giuseppe Catozzella; read by Adjoa Andoh
Penguin Audio; six CDs; seven hours and 30 minutes; $35/www.audible.com download; $24.50

This fictionalized version of Samia Omar’s brief life is an emotional minefield that lingers long after you’ve turned it off. Translated from the Italian, it details a childhood in Somalia made increasingly difficult under a strict Muslim regime and continues to the 2008 Olympics, where Omar ran as part of a two-person delegation. Trying desperately to flee Somalia for a country where she could be properly trained, fed and allowed to run freely, she drowned in the Mediterranean after a harrowing and lengthy journey. Andoh’s Somali accent is thick and overly dramatic, which was unnecessary considering the difficult and emotional material, which desperately needed a lighter touch. Grade: B-plus

Hag-Seed
Margaret Atwood; read by R.H. Thomson
Random House Audio; seven CDs; eight hours; $35/www.audible.com download; $24.50

This installment of the Hogarth Shakespeare novels is an adaptation of “The Tempest.” Prospero is reimaged as Felix, a Canadian theater director who’s usurped by his assistant and finds vengeance years later while staging a version of “The Tempest” in a prison. There are some clunky transitions and a few too many conveniences that are merely glossed over, but this remains fast-paced, enjoyable and clever. Thomson is a seasoned Canadian actor who sounds regionally appropriate and believably theatrical as Felix, and measured and sneaky as his nemesis. He conjures up several subtle vocal variations and captures the novel’s humor with ease. Grade: B-plus


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