Rivka Galchen’s “Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch”

July 23, 2021

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Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by Rivka Galchen, whose new novel, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, is set in the Holy Roman Empire in the 17th century, amid the plague and the Thirty Years’ War, and incorporates actual translated historical documents. It fictionalizes the real-life story of Katharina Kepler, the mother of astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. Katharina, an elderly widow who seems to care most for her cow Chamomile, is accused of being a witch by another woman in the small town of Leonberg. Soon everyone in town is testifying to Katharina’s wickedness. Her own side of the story is told by her neighbor, Simon, who acts as her guardian — but as a bookseller later tells him, “People don’t like an old lady’s story.”


Also, Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl, returns to recommend Raven Leilani’s acclaimed first novel, Luster.