Outstanding Female Authors Everyone Ought to Listen to

Audible.ca | 18.05.21

These women have crafted some of the most incredible and beloved stories in the world.

From rising stars to household names, female authors have contributed some of the best works of all time for our listening pleasure.

Discover your new favourite author or revisit an old favourite with these audiobooks from extremely talented women.

Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur is a young break-out star who rose to fame by sharing her poetry on social media. She is a poet, author, and illustrator, and she self-published her first major collection, Milk and Honey, at just 21.

The collection of poetry became an international success, selling millions of copies and being translated into languages around the world. She has since followed Milk and Honey with The Sun and Her Flowers and Home Body.

The Indian-born Canadian talent often touches on themes of love, loss, migration, trauma, femininity, and healing, which helps her connect with countless fans around the world.

As a student, Kaur was told that poetry was almost never published and not to waste time on trying to find an audience for her work. Defying this advice, she self-published her collection of poems, designing the cover herself. Kaur quickly became one of the most widely recognised names in literature.

Jann Arden

Jann Arden is a Canadian best known for her music career as a singer and songwriter, and more recently as an actress. But when she turned her hand to writing, Arden became an author to watch.

She wrote her memoir If I Knew Then at the age of 57, sharing her considerable life lessons and the wisdom she discovered along the way—in particular, how it took her until her 50s to stop trying to please everyone else and start living her life for herself.

Arden has also penned Falling Backwards and Feeding My Mother. The former is about her childhood, while the later is about living with a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Both memoirs offer not only insights into the author’s life but also thoughtful commentary on growing up and growing old.

Ashley Audrain

Ashley Audrain worked as a publicity director for Penguin Canada before taking a turn at the writing herself, starting with her debut release, The Push.

In her own words, Audrain describes The Push as a “psychological drama told through the lens of motherhood”. The tale follows a woman who desperately wants to be a wonderful, giving mother to her newborn child, but quickly discovers that motherhood is not at all what she expects.

The Push was an overnight sensation, and scored a record-breaking 23 translation deals within two weeks. Narrated by Audie Award winner Marin Ireland, this audiobook is sure to be popular amongst new mothers struggling with the day-to-day challenges of motherhood and any listener who loves a gripping thriller that shocks at every turn.

Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is a First Nations author from British Columbia who has won a number of awards and accolades for her fiction. Robinson’s novels often touch on indigenous lives, and always offer compelling, thoroughly enjoyable listens.

One of her most celebrated works is her Trickster series, which begins with Son of a Trickster. At turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and strange, this coming-of-age story follows Jared, an indigenous burnout who makes money by selling weed cookies, and spends most of his time trying to support everyone around him, including his own mother and elderly neighbours. Oh, and ravens speak to him.

Son of a Trickster was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2017 and selected for the 2020 edition of Canada Reads. The sequel, Trickster Drift, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 2019. The series is narrated by Jason Ryll, a veteran broadcasting talent regularly heard throughout British Columbia.

Jennifer Robson

Jennifer Robson is an accomplished Canadian author who worked as a copy editor before becoming a writer herself. Her works often focus on wartime stories, which are undoubtedly influenced by her father, who was an acclaimed historian and who worked at the Canadian National War Memorial in France.

One of Robson’s latest releases is Our Darkest Night, a harrowing and gripping tale of a Jewish woman who must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife to evade the Nazis. Yet as this city girl struggles to adapt to her new life on the farm and avoid the suspicious interest from her neighbours, her connection with the farmer begins to become something more than an act.

With six titles to her name and as a contributor to an anthology collection, Robson has made a name for herself as a talented author specializing in historical fiction. Her other works include The Gown, Goodnight from London, Moonlight over Paris, and After the War Is Over.

Souvankham Thammavongsa

Born in a refugee camp in Thailand in the late 70s, Souvankham Thammavongsa and her family were sponsored to move to Canada when she was just one year old. After studying in Ontario, Thammavongsa became a writer and a poet.

One of her most notable works is How to Pronounce Knife, a short story collection that won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award, and has been named as one of the best books of spring by numerous international publications. It shines a spotlight on the countless people who scrape by, earning a living far from home, and living as best they can.

Thammavongsa was also invited to contribute to The Audlib Project, a collection of works exploring themes of home from five of Canada’s best storytellers.

Paulette Jiles

Novelist and poet Paulette Jiles is an accomplished writer with more than a dozen titles to her name. After growing up in the USA, she spent two decades in Canada, where she helped to set up native language radio stations with indigenous peoples. During this time, she even learned to speak Ojibwe.

Jiles’s novel News of the World is one of her most beloved, and has recently been turned into a film starring Tom Hanks. This National Book Award finalist is a historical fiction that follows Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in the wake of the Civil War, and his quest to return an orphaned child to her living relatives.

Jiles followed News of the World with Simon the Fiddler, a story about the young fiddler that Kidd encounters during a stop in Spanish Fort. Her other works include Enemy Women, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and Stormy Weather.

Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel shot to international acclaim with her 2014 release Station Eleven, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award, and was nominated for numerous other prizes and awards.

This Canadian native originally studied contemporary dance after high school, but within a decade had written and published her first novel, Last Night in Montreal. She followed this with The Singer’s Gun and The Lola Quartet, and has recently published The Glass Hotel, an award-winning work of fiction that weaves together multiple tales, creating a stunning tapestry of interlocking narratives.

St. John Mandel is known for her unabashedly gritty style that’s tempered with an upbeat, hopeful tone. Her characters are beautifully developed, and her prose is so thoroughly enjoyable that it makes any of her titles a gratifying and delicious listening experience.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a prolific writer, and a generally incredibly high achieving human all-round. She has published more than 50 poems, fictions, and essays, and has also worked as an environmental activist and a teacher.

Despite the striking and often terrible scenarios outlined in many of her works, Atwood has explained that not one of these scenarios are completely figments of her imagination—each one has occurred somewhere in the world at some point.

This is even true for one of her best known novels, The Handmaid’s Tale, set in the Republic of Gilead, where women live in subservient roles, and those who are still fertile are tasked with procreating for the future of humanity. The work has become a popular television series, and its new Special Edition audiobook is narrated by a full cast, including actress Claire Danes and Margaret Atwood herself. As a writer, does Atwood believe her role is to give witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and writing career, the acclaimed author considers that very question in her latest release, On Writers and Writing.

Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is an up-and-coming author whose second release, The Vanishing Half, debuted at the number one spot on the prestigious New York Times best seller list.

Not only was it one of Barack Obama’s favourite books of the year, it has also won a slew of awards and accolades, including the Goodreads Choice Award for best historical fiction. This immensely popular release traces the very different lives of rebellious, light-skinned twin sisters—one who lives as a Black woman, the other who lives as a white woman and keeps her past a secret.

The Vanishing Half follows Bennett’s debut work, The Mothers, which also touches on themes of race, identity, and the choices we make. In both titles, Bennett’s prose is gripping, character-driven, thought-provoking, and utterly unpausable.

Tarryn Fisher

Tarryn Fisher is a self-proclaimed Slytherin, is addicted to Starbucks, and thinks she was born as a writer. She loves writing about villains, and always aims to create stories that pull on the heart-strings.

Fisher has published more than a dozen titles, including listens she has co-authored with renowned writer Colleen Hoover. The Wrong Family is one of Fisher’s most renowned, and the kind of psychological thriller that will pull you under from the first minute. It’s dark, mysterious, chilling, and riddled with twists and turns you’ll never see coming.

Fisher’s other works include The Wives, Never Never, and The Opportunist.

Jael Richardson

Jael Richardson may have grown up as the daughter of Canadian Football League great Chuck Ealey, but she has since carved out a space in the world and a name for herself of her own. Among her accomplishments, Richardson is the executive director of the FOLD literary festival, which celebrates diverse authors and storytellers throughout Canada, sponsored in part by Audible.

In her debut release, Gutter Child, Richardson offers a compelling tale of a world in which the privileged Mainland and the strictly controlled Gutter collide. In a social experiment, one hundred Gutter children are raised in the Mainland, But when Elimina, one of the selected children, is left without her Mainland mother, she must create her own path.

Richardson’s second title, The Stone Thrower explores her own family history and the history of her famous dad. Listeners can learn more about Chuck Ealey, his upbringing, relationships, and career, as well as Richardson’s own upbringing in the midst of it all.

Tanja Talaga

Ojibwe Canadian author, truth-teller, and journalist Tanya Talaga spent more than two decades working at The Toronto Star, and is still a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. Her work and her focus is on Canada’s future and reconciliation, and her messages of hope and inclusion have made her one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the country. As part of her mission, Talaga is the lead mentor in the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle, a program created to help enhance equity and support reconciliation by elevating the voices and telling the stories of Indigenous people in Canada.

In her audiobook Seven Fallen Feathers, Talaga recounts the true story of the deaths of seven Indigenous high school students in northern Ontario throughout the early 21st century. Her investigative reporting skills are on show as she delves into each of the student’s stories and uncovers Canada’s ongoing battle with human rights violations. The release was a finalist for numerous awards, and has become a must-listen for anyone looking to better understand Canada’s past, and present.

Talaga’s other works include Seven Truths, an Audible Original, and All Our Relations, which touch on similar subjects of racism, reconciliation, and hope.

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette hails from the Métis nation in Winnipeg, and studied for a Master of Fine Arts in British Columbia. Vermette grew up surrounded by injustice and prejudice, and even lost her older brother when she was just 14. Driven by his death, and the shocking lack of interest from the local community and media, Vermette grew to become an activist for awareness and change.

In 2016, Vermette released her debut novel. The Break is a comprehensive story covering multiple perspectives of a fictional crime in Winnipeg’s North End. The title won countless awards and became a bestseller across Canada. Fusing love, prejudice, fear, and heartbreak in a stunning family saga, this audiobook will leave you breathless—and thinking.

Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews (pronounced ‘Taves’) is an acclaimed Canadian author who grew up in Manitoba and spent some time living in Montreal and London before making her way to Winnipeg. She began writing novels when she was working as a freelance journalist, and quickly began to receive nominations for various literature awards for her work.

Toews published All My Puny Sorrows in 2014, which would go on to be one of her most beloved and awarded titles. The audiobook follows the story of two sisters raised in a Mennonite family who lead remarkably contrasting lives. Yet it’s not the outwardly ‘messy’ one who can’t bear her daily life. All My Puny Sorrows won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and numerous other finalist places.

Toews’ other titles include Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and Swing Low.

L.M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery, otherwise known as Lucy Maud Montgomery, is one of Canada’s most cherished authors. Using a pseudonym of her initials rather than her feminine name in order to publish and sell her works, Montgomery blazed a path for women writers everywhere with her endearing heroine, introduced in Anne of Green Gables.

Anne Shirley is 11 years old and an orphan, and she’s finally being adopted. Yet the older couple who adopted her were expecting a strong young man who can help out around the farm—not this slender redhead who can’t stop talking. Yet with her upbeat, can-do attitude, Anne quickly wins them over, and her adventures truly begin.

Montgomery’s Anne series includes nine titles, but she has also produced several standalone works, a trilogy, and more, each with her own charming, light-hearted, and enjoyable style.

Megan Gail Coles

Born and raised in Savage Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, Megan Gail Coles began her career in theatre. She co-founded, and was the artistic director, at the Poverty Cove Theatre Company, and attended the National Theatre School of Canada.

This woman of many talents wrote several plays, as well as a short story collection titled Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, which won several awards.

Her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club is best described as a love letter to her home province, including all the good, all the bad, and everything in between. Set against the backdrop of a major blizzard smothering the small town of St. Johns, this story explores the relationships, heart-break, and betrayals of the people of the town.

Alice Munro

Alice Munro is one of Canada’s most renowned writers, having won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. The Ontario native is known for her short stories and widely credited for revolutionising the medium with her playfulness and creativity when it comes to structure.

Her release Runaway offers listeners a collection of short stories. In each of these stories, Munro explores the lives of women, uncovering the complexity of life through straightforward prose. The work won the 2004 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, as well as the Giller Prize.

Munro also won the Man Booker Prize for her lifetime body of work in 2009, which includes Friend of My Youth, Dear Life, and Too Much Happiness.

Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is an Irish-born Canadian and award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. Her 2010 release Room is arguably her most well-known title, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes, and which she later adapted into film.

Her most recent release, The Pull of the Stars is set in 1918 Dublin during the Great Flu pandemic (although it was written before the outbreak of coronavirus). This surprisingly timely title follows three people—a volunteer, a nurse midwife, and a doctor—struggling to save lives in a maternity quarantine ward.

Donoghue’s collective novels, short stories, and plays touch on themes of feminism, hardship, and sexual identity, and her writing is always compelling, challenging, and human.

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