Author Rivka Galchen sits against a white brick wall

MacEwan University is pleased to announce that its 2022/23 MacEwan Book of the Year is Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch, by Rivka Galchen.

The MacEwan Book of the Year is an annual celebration of a work of Canadian literature that reaches into classrooms across the university. Students and faculty members are invited to explore the book and its messages through classroom visits with the author, a public reading and a student contest. 

“The continued success of this initiative is a signature achievement,” says Dr. Craig Monk, MacEwan’s provost and vice-president, Academic. “We have, over decades now, hosted accomplished authors who find new and interesting ways to engage directly with our students. It is great to see all campus talking about a single work each year from our many different disciplinary perspectives.”

That interdisciplinary engagement is something the Book of the Year Committee found particularly exciting about this selection.

Committee chair Carissa Fedoruk explains that the book connects to themes of science (it being about the astronomer Johannes Kepler's mother), history (it is based on the true story of Katharina Kepler) and offers the creative freedom of a fictional reimagining. 

“Rivka Galchen herself is also such an interesting author who has a lot to share with our students,” says Fedoruk. “Her career path went from science to creative writing, as well as teaching at Columbia University, which I think is an incredibly interesting dynamic to learn from.”

Book cover of Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch

About the novel

Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch is centred on the true history of the 1618 witch trial of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s mother in the German duchy of Württemberg. Galchen’s book draws on historical documents and infuses the story with an intensity of imagination, sly humour and intellectual fire. The combination is a touching illumination of a family undone by superstition, the state and the mortal convulsions of history, and a community implicated in collective aggression and hysterical fear.

Galchen will visit MacEwan design, English and studio arts classrooms virtually and in person throughout the year to discuss her book, and will deliver a public reading at the university in March 2023.

Congratulations to the 2021/22 student contest winners

As part of the MacEwan Book of the Year proceedings, students are invited to submit their creative work or critical essay to the annual student contest. Inspired by Souvankham Thammavongsa's How to Pronounce Knife, the 2021/22 Book of the Year, this year's winners and honourable mentions are:

  • Critical Essay Winner: Layla Aidan (Bachelor of Arts)
  • Creative Writing Winner: Derek Lantz (Bachelor of Arts) for his short story "Family Values"
  • Creative Project Winner: Elise Cheung (Bachelor of Design)
  • Creative Project Honourable Mentions: 
    • Rachel Blaak (Bachelor of Design)
    • Mary Escano (Studio Arts)
    • Thia Ma (Bachelor of Design)
Watch for news about upcoming events and learn more about past Books of the Year at

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