The Secret Life by Andrew O'Hagan
Three True Stories of the Digital Age

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This book is too fragmentary and recycled to be a definitive encounter with the internet. Only a brief foreword and a few updated sections are new material. And O’Hagan’s position in the pieces – as the invited confidant of his subjects – ultimately feels too comfortable.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A Top 10 Book of Essays & Literary Criticism for Fall 2017, Publishers Weekly | Books We Can’t Wait to Read in the Rest of 2017, Chicago Reader

The slippery online ecosystem is the perfect breeding ground for identities: true, false, and in between. The Internet shorthand IRL―“in real life”―now seems naïve. We no longer question the reality of online experiences but the reality of selfhood in the digital age.

In The Secret Life: Three True Stories, the essayist and novelist Andrew O’Hagan issues three bulletins from the porous border between cyberspace and IRL. “Ghosting” introduces us to the beguiling and divisive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose autobiography the author agrees to ghostwrite with unforeseen―and unforgettable―consequences. “The Invention of Ronnie Pinn” finds the author using the actual identity of a deceased young man to construct an entirely new one in cyberspace, leading him on a journey deep into the Web’s darkest realms. And “The Satoshi Affair” chronicles the strange case of Craig Wright, the Australian Web developer who may or may not be the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto―and who may or may not be willing, or even able, to reveal the truth.

O’Hagan’s searching pieces take us to the weirder fringes of life in a digital world while also casting light on our shared predicaments. What does it mean when your very sense of self becomes, to borrow a term from the tech world, “disrupted”? Perhaps it takes a novelist, an inventor of selves, armed with the tools of a trenchant reporter, to find an answer.

 

About Andrew O'Hagan

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ANDREW O'HAGAN was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His previous novels have been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award.
 
Published October 10, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 240 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Secret Life
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Andy Beckett on Jun 24 2017

This book is too fragmentary and recycled to be a definitive encounter with the internet. Only a brief foreword and a few updated sections are new material. And O’Hagan’s position in the pieces – as the invited confidant of his subjects – ultimately feels too comfortable.

Read Full Review of The Secret Life: Three True S... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Anthony on Jun 11 2017

It ends with O’Hagan encountering the dead man’s mother. And suddenly, at the core of this excellent collection, we glimpse the unbridgeable difference between the real and the invented.

Read Full Review of The Secret Life: Three True S... | See more reviews from Guardian

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