Q&A with Ilyana Kadushin, Narrator of Disappearing Earth

It’s not an easy feat to create one complex and beautifully written novel by weaving together multiple characters and their stories. Debut novel Disappearing Earth accomplishes it. It’s also not easy to bring a novel like that to life in the audiobook, but award-winning narrator (and singer, lyricist, and multimedia performance artist!) Ilyana Kadushin brilliantly does.

Follow along as Ilyana tells us more about her experience narrating Disappearing Earth and as we learn a little bit more about her.


Tell us a little about Disappearing Earth.
This book centers around the people of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian far east and is framed around the disappearance of two young girls there and how the search for these missing girls affects many different people there. I think what the author, Julia Phillips, does beautifully is show our shared humanity with the people of Kamchatka, how we have many of the same concerns and joys.

What was the most challenging character or scene you had to voice in Disappearing Earth, and why was it a challenge?
In Disappearing Earth some of the story lines are about the way women and girls experience oppression and violence in their lives. I have been an activist on behalf of women and girls for many years now, but it is never easy to portray women or girls who are in oppressive or violent situations.

Growing up, did you have a favorite character whose voice you especially loved listening to?
I would definitely mimic a lot of characters that I watched on TV growing up. I had a mini recording device as a kid and would actually practice the voices I heard and listen back. A definite foreshadowing of my career ahead! But my favorite memory in this vein was about my father. He did some acting when I was growing up. I was very young, and the story he told me was that he would take me to his play rehearsals, and I would sit in the theater and memorize all the lines I heard the actors say. When we would return home, I would want to run lines with him.

Is there a character or situation that you’ve narrated that you feel contributed to your growth personally or professionally?
I had the honor of narrating Nadia Murad’s memoir, The Last Girl. Nadia won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. I have narrated many stories about women and girls overcoming obstacles and transforming into something greater than they ever expected. The Last Girl is a shining example of this, and sharing her story with American audiences was very moving and inspiring to me, both personally as a woman and as a narrator. It showed how powerful it can be to share stories across the globe.

Did the experience of narrating Disappearing Earth reveal something about your work that you didn’t expect? If so, what?
Every book I narrate affects me in some way. My background is Eastern European, with family roots in Russia, and I also have a great interest in learning about lesser-known regions of the world and what life is like. For these reasons, this book captivated me and piqued my curiosity to know more. I think as a narrator when my curiosity is piqued, it allows me to stay engaged and sustain this energy.


Listen to a clip of Ilyana Kadushin narrate the novel:

Disappearing Earth

“Absorbing and extraordinarily well crafted.” —The Boston Globe

“Fascinating, immensely moving…Engrossing.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A genuine masterpiece.” —Gary Shteyngart

Dive even deeper into Disappearing Earth by checking out our Q&A with author Julia Phillips!