Looking for your next audiobook listen? Look no further than these stories by writers from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
From short and laugh-out-loud funny to historical fiction and true crime, these audiobooks are just a glimpse of the writing talent that is coming out of the Pacific Islands.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links and images, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.
1 | How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid
From Coco Solid (otherwise known as Jessica Hansell, an Aotearoan, Ngaphui/Samoan rapper and writer), How to Loiter in a Turf War is a day in the life of three friends beefing with their own city, Tamaki Makaurau. With gentrification closing in and racial tensions sweltering, the girls must cling to their friendship like a life raft, determined not to let their neighbourhood drift out to sea.
This is laugh-out-loud funny and at only 2hrs 24 mins it is very quick to listen to. I loved this so much that I have not returned this book to my Audible library as I want to listen to this again and again.
2 | Year of The Reaper by Makiia Lucier
“The past never forgets….
Three years ago, Lord Cassia disappeared in the midst of war, on a mission entrusted to him by the king. Since then, a devastating plague has swept the land, leaving countless dead and the kingdom forever altered.
Having survived a rotting prison cell and a merciless illness, Cas, now 18, wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.
When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer…one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret – one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.”
3 | Auē by Becky Manawatu
Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) was born in Nelson, raised in Waimangaroa and Auē is her first book.
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to a violent home.
But Taukiri’s brother, Ārama, is braver than he looks, and he has a friend, and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sadness.
This bestselling multi-award-winning novel is both raw and sublime, introducing a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction.”
4, 5, 6 & 7 | Sam Shephard Series by Vanda Symon
Vanda Symon is the Author of the Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction series and the stand-alone thriller Faceless. She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction novel, was shortlisted for the British CWA New Blood Dagger award, and has been nominated for the 2022 USA Barry Awards. Vanda calls Dunedin, New Zealand home.
Start listening to book one in the series:
“Overkill: When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.”
8 | The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke by Tina Makereti
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke is by award-winning Aotearoan author, Tina Makereti.
“The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But I must finish my story for you first. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna.
So begins the tale of James Pōneke – orphaned son of a chief, ardent student of English, wide-eyed survivor.
All the world’s a show when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander – a boy between worlds, having lost his family and tribe – on the savage streets of Victorian London.
When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined…”
9 | She is Not Your Rehab by Matt Brown with Sarah Brown
“Mataio (Matt) Faafetai Malietoa Brown offers the men in his barbershop a haircut with a difference: a safe space to be seen and heard without judgement.
As the creator of My Fathers Barbers, Matt has inspired a new generation of New Zealand men to break free from the cycle of abuse – and those men have in turn inspired Matt and his wife, Sarah, to create the global anti-violence movement She Is Not Your Rehab.
In this book, Matt shares his own story and those of his clients: how they survived family violence and abuse, and how they were able to find healing and turn their lives around. He introduces the people and concepts that have helped him heal and gives listeners the tools they need to begin their own journeys.
She is Not Your Rehab demonstrates the power of vulnerability and honesty in addressing pain and shame, and shows how anyone can empower themselves by taking responsibility for their own healing.”
Read my full review in my Goodreads Challenge 2022 post.
10 | Faceless by Vanda Symon
Faceless is another crime book by Fijian and Aotearoan author, Vanda Symon.
“Worn down by a job he hates and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle-class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse and he doesn’t know what to do.
Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max – but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.
In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time…”
More Books from the Pacific
If you liked these audiobook recommendations and want more to read by Pacific Island authors, then take a look at these blogs: