ABOUT KATIE HAFNER

Katie Hafner

Author Photo by Christopher Michel

Katie Hafner was on staff at The New York Times for ten years, where she remains a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The New RepublicThe Washington Post, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous works of nonfiction covering a range of topics, including the origins of the Internet, computer hackers, German reunification, and the pianist Glenn Gould.

Her first novel, The Boys, will be published by Spiegel & Grau in July 2022. She is currently working on a book of essays about taking up the game of golf.
 
On top of the Our Mothers Ourselves podcast, Katie is the creator and host of Lost Women of Science, a new narrative podcast that illuminates the lives of remarkable female scientists whose stories have been lost to history.

THE BOYS

About Katie's New Book, The Boys:

When introverted Ethan Fawcett marries the vivacious Barb, he has every reason to believe he will be delivered from a lifetime of solitude. One day, Barb brings home two young brothers, Tommy and Sam, for them to foster, and when the pandemic hits, Ethan becomes obsessed with providing a perfect life for them. Instead of bringing Barb and Ethan closer, though, the boys become a wedge in their relationship, as Ethan is unable to tell Barb something that has been haunting him since childhood. 
 
Ethan takes the boys on a biking trip in Italy, and it becomes clear just how unusual Ethan and his children are – and what it will take for Ethan to repair his marriage. This wise and compassionate debut novel is a bold high-wire feat – and the introduction of an exciting and daring new voice in fiction.
The Boys Animated Cover

Praise for The Boys:

Review in The New York Times

“What a wonder of storytelling. I will be thinking of these boys for a long time to come.”

Weike WangThe New York Times Book Review, July 26, 2022

“Journalist Hafner’s marvelous fiction debut centers on a socially awkward man’s neuroses about fatherhood. While working as the chief technology officer at a startup in Philadelphia, Ethan meets Barb, a University of Pennsylvania grad student, and the two start dating. They soon marry, though Ethan suspects he’s scored out of his league. Having lost his parents at an early age, he also fears becoming a father, but Barb changes his mind, only for them to discover after a year of trying to conceive that Ethan is sterile. They decide to foster two young boys, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hits and Ethan develops an overbearing attachment to them, his relationship with Barb disintegrates. She leaves him and he takes the boys on a bike trip to Italy, where a jaw-dropping twist ensues. Starting out as a lighthearted romance before taking an unsettling turn, this upsets expectations in the best way. The heartbreaking late reveal will take a second reading to fully sink in and pushes the troubled marriage genre to dizzying extremes. It’s a remarkable outing, and readers will look forward to seeing what Hafner does next.”

Publishers Weekly

“Tender and emotionally intelligent…An audacious feat of narrative bravado.”

– Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This is a treat-yourself read, the tale of an endearing human on a hilariously misguided quest for love and connection, in the delight-filled tradition of Anne Tyler. But Hafner bakes a surprise into the center of her confection — a glorious, mind-blowing twist that propels the story to unexpected heights and depths. With exquisite compassion and humor, this novel leaves its readers deeply nourished, heart, mind, and soul.

Debra Jo Immergut, Author of You Again

The Boys Katie Hafner

What’s with Those Boys? Katie Hafner Is Asking.

Publishers WeeklyKatie Hafner, a seasoned journalist and the author of six nonfiction books, tells me she gave up on writing a novel when, as a young girl, she read Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home. “I thought, I could never do this. But I’ve mellowed and am not so harsh with myself. Maybe I’m not Sylvia Plath, but I can still do it.”

And she has, brilliantly: her debut novel, The Boys, is forthcoming in July from the revamped Spiegel & Grau, which launched as an independent publisher in December 2020 after being a longtime Penguin Random House imprint. It’s Spiegel & Grau’s first acquired novel and the first one it’s publishing.

MOTHER WORD CLOUD

Give us your word!

Since Mother Daughter Me was first published in 2013, I’ve been asking people to describe their mother in one word. The words people choose are as poignant as they are diverse: Saintly. Perfect. Violent. Unselfish. Clannish.

Some words keep showing up over and over. “Caring” is one. “Narcissist” is another (ouch). The list is now so long — and so compelling — that a few years ago I created a word cloud in order to get a better fix, visually, on how we collectively feel about our mothers. That is, the more frequently a particular word crops up (e.g. “Loving” and “Strong”), the bigger the word is when shown on the word cloud. I update the cloud once a week.

Please contribute your own word to the cloud HERE.

BOOKS BY KATIE HAFNER

Through the years, Katie Hafner’s journalism has been finding occasional expression in books of narrative non-fiction. In 1991, Simon & Schuster published Hafner’s first book, Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (with John Markoff), the first book about the computer underground. While researching one of the main characters in Cyberpunk, a West German hacker named Pengo, Hafner traveled to Hamburg and Berlin, around the time the Berlin Wall fell. She stayed in Berlin to write stories for The New York Times about the effects of reunification on the former East Germany. Out of that fine mess of national confusion emerged Hafner’s second book, The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany (Scribner; 1995) which focused on 150 years in the life of one old dilapidated villa on the Potsdam side of the famous Glienicke Bridge, where spies were exchanged during The cold War. In 1996, turning back to the topic of technology, Hafner returned to Simon & Schuster to publish Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, which she wrote with her late husband, Matthew Lyon. In 2001, Carroll & Graf published Hafner’s The Well: A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community, which first appeared as a very long piece in Wired Magazine. Smitten with the conceit of describing a world through a grain of sand, wrote A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano (Bloomsbury USA; 2008), which Kirkus called “the musical version of Seabiscuit.”  In 2013, Hafner published a memoir, Mother Daughter Me (Penguin Random House), about a misbegotten experiment in multi-generational living. She recently finished her first novel and is working on a book about taking up the game of golf in order to spend more time with her husband, tentatively titled, Pebble & Pearl: An Unlikely Golfing Love Story.

Read more about her books HERE.

Katie Hafner's Favorite Books

28 inches, 31 books

I recently decided to try an exercise in library triage: give myself 28 inches of bookshelf and see how many of my favorite books I could cram onto it. Click here to see the result. (You’ll see that I cheated a bit on either end, with the help of a wall and a sturdy bookend.)  I’m working on a  blog post for each and every choice.