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Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch
An image of the 2021 book cover
2021 book cover image
AuthorRivka Galchen
Audio read byNatasha Soudek
GenreFiction, Historical novel
Set in17th-century Germany
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
June 8, 2021
Publication placeUnited States
Media typeHardcover, E-book, Audio book
LC ClassPS3607.A4116 E94 2021
Preceded by'Atmospheric Disturbances' 

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is a historical fiction novel written by Rivka Galchen and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on June 8, 2021.[1][2] The book is a fictionalized version of true events.[3] Part of the historical background of this story is that "between 1625 and 1631, under the Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Würzburg, the Holy Roman Empire saw one of the biggest mass trials in European history, with an estimated 900 people executed in the Würzburg witch trials."[4]


This story is set in the 17th century in the Holy Roman Empire during the beginnings of the Thirty Years War and the plague. In this fictionalized version of the illiterate Katharina Kepler's later life, she is accused of witchcraft. Part of the reason for the accusation is because she lives into old age when most people die around the age of 30. Other reasons are related to her personal quirks. Also, the label of "witch" comes at first from Ursula Reinbold and then snowballs into many in her community accusing her of the same. Her son Johannes Kepler was compelled to absent himself from the royal court to defend his mother. She is also aided by two of her other children as well as her sympathetic legal guardian, scribe, and neighbor, Simon.[4][3][5][6]


According to the online review aggregator website Book Marks, the book received mostly positive reviews.[7]

Kirkus Reviews says, "There is so much in this novel to consider—the degree to which we make monsters of one another, the way that old age can make of femininity an apparently terrifying, otherworldly thing—but it is also, at every step along the way, an entirely delicious book."[2] Publishers Weekly says, "Galchen portrays her characters as complicated and full of wit as they face down the cruelties dealt to them...[t]his is a resounding delight.[6] According to Rhianna Walton of Powell's Books, "It's relatable, in a way I didn't think possible...[a]nd it's poignant and philosophical, an examination of motherhood, neighborhood, science, magic, and culpability that I knew possible only because I've read Galchen before and was prepared for her singular ability to breathe life, logic, and beauty into the absurd.[8] Writing for The Washington Post, Ron Charles describes how "the comedy that runs through 'Everyone Knows' is a magical brew of absurdity and brutality. Galchen has a Kafkaesque sense of the way the exercise of authority inflates egos and twists logic."[9]

The novel was long listed for the 2022 Canada Reads contest.[10]


  1. ^ Charles, Ron (June 1, 2021). "The story of Europe's infamous witch trials gets the Monty Python treatment". Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b Staff (March 17, 2021). "A 17th-century German witch hunt—really". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher (July 23, 2021). "Rivka Galchen's "Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch"". Los Angeles Review of Books.
  4. ^ a b Hagi, Sarah (June 8, 2021). "Rivka Galchen's Historical Novel Satirizes Moral Panic". New York Times. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  5. ^ Kellog, Carolyn (June 3, 2021). "Review: Spellbinding novelist Rivka Galchen's new book is a hysterical witch hunt". Los Angeles Times (the newspaper).
  6. ^ a b Clegg, Bill (July 8, 2021). "Review: Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch". Publishers Weekly.
  7. ^ "Book Marks reviews of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen". Book Marks. Retrieved 2022-02-05.
  8. ^ Walton, Rhianna (June 23, 202). "Powell's Interview: Rivka Galchen, author of 'Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch'". Powell's Books.
  9. ^ Charles, Ron (June 1, 2021). "The story of Europe's infamous witch trials gets the Monty Python treatment". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  10. ^ "Here is the Canada Reads 2022 longlist". CBC. January 12, 2022. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
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Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch
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