Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: A Novel (Paperback)
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"It’s impossible not to grow attached to and root for Katherina as accusations mount. She narrates with the truth-telling, irreverent humor of a mother who has seen it all; she couldn’t possibly maim and poison at will when “I can’t even win at backgammon, as you know.” Katherina also speaks with the resigned wisdom of a woman who has “cried so much in my life that there are no tears left in me.” Galchen intersperses Katherina’s account of her plight with testimony from the accused woman’s friends, acquaintances, and enemies in the insular town. Even when the “evidence” is ludicrous (“Katherina rode a calf to death and then roasted it, a common practice among witches”), their combined testimonies reveal a populace desperate for answers to their physical and psychic pains. This is a precise, funny, poignant novel about how we choose to face a world we can’t control."--Reviewed by Breanne
The startling, witty, highly anticipated second novel from the critically acclaimed author of Atmospheric Disturbances.
The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading. The Thirty Years' War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch.
Katharina is an illiterate widow, known by her neighbors for her herbal remedies and the success of her children, including her eldest, Johannes, who is the Imperial Mathematician and renowned author of the laws of planetary motion. It's enough to make anyone jealous, and Katharina has done herself no favors by being out and about and in everyone's business.
So when the deranged and insipid Ursula Reinbold (or as Katharina calls her, the Werewolf) accuses Katharina of offering her a bitter, witchy drink that has made her ill, Katharina is in trouble. Her scientist son must turn his attention from the music of the spheres to the job of defending his mother. Facing the threat of financial ruin, torture, and even execution, Katharina tells her side of the story to her friend and next-door neighbor Simon, a reclusive widower imperiled by his own secrets.
Drawing on real historical documents but infused with the intensity of imagination, sly humor, and intellectual fire for which Rivka Galchen is known, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch will both provoke and entertain. The story of how a community becomes implicated in collective aggression and hysterical fear is a tale for our time. Galchen's bold new novel touchingly illuminates a society and a family undone by superstition, the state, and the mortal convulsions of history.
About the Author
Rivka Galchen received her MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, having spent a year in South America working on public health issues. Galchen completed her MFA at Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham Fellow. Her essay on the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics was published in The Believer, and she is the recipient of a 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Galchen lives in New York City. She is the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances.