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Acclaimed novelist Dan Mallory says he faked brain cancer to hide bipolar illness


Author Dan Mallory (David M. Benett)

Acclaimed author Dan Mallory, whose best-selling novel is about to become a star-studded movie, has admitted he fabricated brain cancer – to cover up his bipolar illness, he alleges.

Mallory did not stop telling tales with “The Woman in the Window,” which is due to be released as a major motion picture starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and other big names. His fiction apparently spread to his so-called real life, according to an expose in The New Yorker.

The film, a thriller adapted from Mallory’s novel written under the pseudonym A.J. Finn, is coming out in October. The New Yorker’s Ian Parker details how the author started with a few embellished tales, then quickly moved on to outright lies, until it’s hard to tell where the truth ends and the fabrications begin.

“According to many people who know him, Mallory has a history of imposture, and of duping people with false stories about disease and death,” wrote Parker. “Long before he wrote fiction professionally, Mallory was experimenting with gothic personal fictions, apparently designed to get attention, bring him advancement, or to explain away failings.”

Among other things, he claimed to have earned a doctorate at Oxford University in England, which he hadn’t. But then he progressed, telling people his mother and brother had died, and that he had a brain tumor. None of this turned out to be true.

Nonetheless, he progressed up the publishing ladder and landed as an editor at William Morrow, which is where he was working when he wrote “The Woman in the Window,” published by Harper Collins in early January and slated for paperback in March. It shot onto the New York Times Bestseller list and stayed there, selling 2 million copies.

He has now admitted to fabricating the brain cancer, and his family members’ deaths. With The New Yorker report outing him comes the question of what’s next. Will there be repercussions, wondered Publisher’s Weekly? How, the Twittersphere asked once again, can a privileged white male rise to the top so quickly while others – women, people of color – “are often stuck for years in the same assistant job that maybe pays 35k a year,” as one person put it, while another pointed to a Bustle story talking about the exodus of women of color from publishing.

William Morrow appeared to consider the matter personal.

“We don’t comment on the personal lives of our employees or authors,” the publishing house said in a statement to The New Yorker. “Professionally, Dan was a highly valued editor, and the publication of ‘The Woman in the Window’—a #1 New York Times bestseller out of the gate, and the bestselling debut novel of 2018—speaks for itself.”