Malcolm Dowd is almost positive he recognizes the young woman who shows up for a session at his office in Baxter College’s Center for Behavioral Health — he just can’t place her. When suddenly she stands, takes off her wig, and reveals herself as Noah, the young man Malcolm had been treating months earlier, it marks the start of a relationship that will change them both forever. Since his wife’s death years earlier in a car accident, Malcolm had dedicated himself to giving his two daughters the stable, predictable childhood he did not have. But nothing is predictable — not his daughters, not himself, and certainly not Noah. As Noah attempts to juggle homework and the campus production of "Les Miserables" with his search to define himself, his life becomes inextricably entwined with Malcolm’s. Told alternately from Malcolm’s and Noah’s perspectives, The Listener is a wise and witty novel about the challenges to identity that arise in both adolescence and middle age. It is a story, ultimately, about human connection and the many shapes that love can take.
Rachel Basch is the author of previous two novels: The Passion of Reverend Nash (named one of the five best novels of 2003 by The Christian Science Monitor) and Degrees of Love. Basch has reviewed books for The Washington Post Book World, and her nonfiction has appeared in n+1, Parenting and The Huffington Post. Basch was a 2011 MacDowell Colony Fellow. She received the William Van Wert fiction prize for an excerpt from her novel, The Listener. She currently teaches in Fairfield University’s MFA Program and in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan University. She lives in Connecticut.