Mara Hvistendahl is a writer and speaker. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Scientist and The Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage (Riverhead, 2020). Her first book, Unnatural Selection, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
In 2008, Canadian model Diana O'Brien was stabbed to death in a Shanghai stairwell just twelve days after arriving in the city. The actions of both police investigators and O'Brien's modeling agency soon aroused suspicion, adding to the mystery of her death. At once a page-turning narrative and a work of deep investigation, the longform story And The City Swallowed Them draws on dozens of interviews with those close to the crime.
There are over 100 million women and girls “missing” from Asia’s population — more than the entire female population of the United States. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, with a cast of characters ranging from geneticists to sex workers, Unnatural Selection looks at sex selection’s unexpected origins in western technology — and what happens when the world's extra boys grow up.
Mara has written about everything from underwater archaeology to cyber espionage. Her feature articles, op-eds, and book reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, Technology Review, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and other publications. Mara is a founding member of the writers' cooperative Deca and a former National Fellow at New America.