Is it possible to be happy?

by Katie Williams
Riverhead, Summer 2018
Agent: Doug Stewart (Sterling Lord Literistic)

THE HAPPINESS MACHINE is a novel-in-stories set in a near-future San Francisco. The chapters follow Pearl and her work as a technician for the Apricity company, which has invented a machine that suggests life changes that will make a person happy. Some of the suggestions are innocuous, like eat more tangerines or adopt a dog, while others are more extreme, like divorce your wife or amputate the tip of your right index finger. The machine’s precision is heralded as almost 100% effective for those who follow its advice. Meanwhile Pearl’s teenage son Rhett, who suffers from anorexia and has been hospitalized as a result of his eating disorder, frustratingly refuses to take the Apricity. Pearl’s husband and Rhett’s father has left them for a romance with a younger woman, and Pearl is struggling. Along with other fascinating characters including a horror movie star famous for screaming, and one of the execs at the Apricity corporation who receives odd advice about his management style, the book asks us as readers what it takes or us to be happy. And is it really possible?

Katie Williams is the author of two young adult novels, THE SPACE BETWEEN TREES and ABSENT (both published by Chronicle Books). Her short stories have appeared in The Atlantic, American Short Fiction, Best American Fantasy, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, and elsewhere. Williams earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at University of Texas at Austin. She teaches writing and literature at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

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