A mesmerizing meditation on sound, silence and listening, written by “a consummate naturalist…with the grace and precision of a Peter Matthiessen or an Annie Dillard” (Los Angeles Times), award-winning author Barbara Hurd has made an art of calling our attention to the finest details of the world around us.

In LISTENING TO THE SAVAGE, Hurd explores the intricacies of our senses while lying amid ferns on a forest floor with her granddaughter, wading through the gurgling Savage River, or striking a tonic chord at the piano. Reflecting also on the varied meanings of silence in nature, Hurd grounds the text in evolutionary wonders such as the prey that stops its heartbeat for acoustic invisibility, or the spadefoot toad that hibernates underground until it hears rain.


Barbara Hurd’s previous books are STIRRING THE MUD (Beacon Press, 2001; a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001), ENTERING THE STONE (Houghton Mifflin, 2003; a Library Journal Best Natural History Book of the Year) and WALKING THE WRACK LINE (University of Georgia Press, 2008). Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays, The Yale Review, and Orion. The recipient of a 2002 NEA Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, winner of the Sierra Club’s National Nature Writing Award and Pushcart Prizes in 2004 and 2007, Barbara Hurd teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.