In D.C. Tonight?

I’m kicking around the idea that D.C. is the only major American city that isn’t the setting for an important novel. I’ve gotta be wrong about this, yes? But at the moment all I’m coming up with is Ward Just‘s Echo House as a novel that’s any kind of rival to, say, The Man With the Golden Arm or City of Night or The Bonfire of the Vanities. I’m hoping that tonight’s reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library featuring Dinaw Mengestu and Edward P. Jones will help me out a little. I liked The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears well enough, but it’s no classic, and no amount of strenuous effort can make All Aunt Hagar’s Children into a novel. Suggestions?

Today’s Post has a piece on Jones; Mengestu was just announced as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the first-fiction category.

3 thoughts on “In D.C. Tonight?

  1. “The Plot Against America” probably fails on both counts because much of the book is set in Newark and it may never be considered a classic, but it was an important novel for a while and it does contain a classic scene of discrimination at a Washington hotel. Not to mention, it’s Philip Roth.

    It’s a thin category, isn’t it? Plenty of thrillers by Ludlum, Follett, Clancy, Grisham.

    Films are much easier, but Wag the Dog was hardly an important novel.

    How about “Being There”?

  2. “Being There” is a good one, thanks. Nora Ephron’s “Heartburn” has also been recommended to me. Of course, I’ve wound up having a lot of conversations about George Pelecanos and Christopher Buckley as well. I’m a tremendous fan of Pelecanos especially, but I can’t think of a book of his that I’d put in the category of the great city novels. Maybe “The Sweet Forever.” Maybe “Hard Revolution.” He’s getting closer.

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