Matt Richtel

Matt Richtel (born October 2, 1966 in Los Angeles)[1][2] is an American writer and journalist for The New York Times. He was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series on distracted driving.[3]

Matt Richtel
Born (1966-10-02) October 2, 1966
Pen nameTheron Heir
Occupationauthor, journalist, comic strip writer
EducationUniversity of California at Berkeley, BA
Columbia School of Journalism, MS
Notable worksA Deadly Wandering
Rudy Park

Richtel obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and an MS from the Columbia School of Journalism.[4]

He is the author of A Deadly Wandering, a New York Times-bestselling nonfiction narrative that intertwines the story of a car crash caused by a texting driver with a study of the science of attention. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by The Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, and Amazon, among others.

Richtel also writes fiction and has authored several mystery/thrillers, including Dead on Arrival (William Morrow, 2017), called by the New York Times Book Review "An intellectual thrill ride that tucks searing social critique into the Trojan horse of a save-the-world page-turner." He also wrote Doomsday Equation (2015), The Cloud, and Devil's Plaything. His first book, called Hooked, is about a reporter whose life is turned upside down when he escapes a cafe explosion after a stranger hands him a note in his dead fiancée's handwriting warning him to leave.[5]

He co-created and formerly wrote the syndicated comic Rudy Park under the pen name Theron Heir.[6] Since 2012, the strip is now written by its longtime illustrator Darrin Bell.[7]

In 2010, Richtel wrote,[8] and was interviewed,[9] about the impact on the human brain of living with "a deluge of data" from digital devices.[8] In the interview, he previewed his current investigation into the idea that "[t]here is some thought that the way kids' brains ... and frontal lobes ... are developing" differently from those of their parents and others of older generations. He said he expected to publish his work on this subject in early December.[9]

His most recent book released in March 2019, titled An Elegant Defense, follows the story of four individuals in a complex narrative that demonstrates the function of the immune system.


Richtel lives in San Francisco with his wife, son and daughter.[9]


  1. Matthew D. Richtel...Born in Los Angeles, Calif.
  2. California Births, 1905 - 1995, Matthew D. Richtel
  3. Pulitzer citation. "Awarded to Matt Richtel and members of The New York Times Staff for incisive work, in print and online, on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks, stimulating widespread efforts to curb distracted driving." "Driven to Distraction", Times series, July 18, 2009-March 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  4. Author's website.
  5. interview with Matt Richtel, author of Hooked
  6. Gardner, Alan. "MATT RICHTEL TAKES YEAR SABBATICAL FROM RUDY PARK," The Daily Cartoonist (April 13, 2012).
  7. Article in the Editor and Publisher identifies Theron Heir as Matt Richtel.
  8. Richtel, Matt, "Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime", The New York Times, August 24, 2010. Part of a series called "Your Brain on Computers" which also included "Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain" (August 16, 2010) and "Attached to Technology and Paying a Price" (June 7, 2010), also by Richtel. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  9. "Digital Overload: Your Brain On Gadgets" Transcript of subject interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
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