Washington, DC

9 Books set in DC to watch for in 2021

Claire Handscombe

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It's always fun to read books set where you live -- and this is doubly true when you live in a city full of ambitious types and political shenanigans. Here are 9 great newly or about-to-be published books set in DC to look for this year.

Admit This To No One, by Leslie Pietrzyk (November 9, The Unnamed Press)

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This collection of linked short stories that revolve around a Speaker of the House and the various important women in his life looks to be a must-read for fans of Scandal who want a more literary take on the story of a fixer, as well as issues of power, race, and the many ways DC is divided.

Creatures of Passage, by Morowa Yejidé (March 16, Akashic Books)

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This surreal thriller written by a DC native is set in Anacostia in 1977 and explores regret, revenge, grief, and more. Its protagonists are twins, named after Egyptian gods, only one of whom is still alive.

The Days to Come, by Tom Rosenstiehl (November 23, Ecco)

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In this political thriller, a new president is determined to bring sweeping change, revitalising the economy, fighting climate change, and getting American government to function again. But to do so, he's going to need the help of his fixers, one of whom is fighting his own personal battles, too. And that's before a cyberattack and an unpredictable crisis throws the country into futher chaos...

Happy Endings, by Thien-Kim Lam

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This steamy romance set in a fictional neighbourhood in North East DC features a love story between the owner of a sex toy shop and the restaurant owner who broke her heart back in New Orleans. "Unabashedly sex-positive, Happy Endings is a paean to second-chance romance--as well as friendship, family, food, and inclusive com.munities. The story's undeniable warmth makes it a pleasure to read," says beloved romance author Olivia Dade.

The Lost Diary of M, by Paul Wolfe ( February 23, Harper Paperbacks)

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Back in the 1960s, Mary Pinchot Meyer was a fascinating DC character. The sister-in-law of the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee, the ex-wife of a CIA chief, and a longtime secret lover of JFK, she died in mysterious circumstances a year after the President's murder. Out now in paperback, this novel reimagines her story.

Never Saw Me Coming, by Vera Kurian (September 7, Park Row)

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It's fair to say that this is not the typical DC thriller. It brings something completely new to the game, charting the story of a cohort of seven psychopaths brought together for a clinical study at a DC college. We zoom in on Chloe, who between frat parties is plotting lethal revenge on a childhood friend -- but who soon has to decide whether she can ever trust a psychopath.

The Passover Guest, by Susan Kusel (January 19, Neal Porter Books)

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Set in 1933, this is a beautifully illustrated book for kids from preschool to third grade, which tells the story of a family too poor to celebrate a Passover Seder. At the Lincoln Memorial, young Muriel meets a magician, and when she arrives back home, a feast awaits her.

Selena Singh Fliips the Script, by Sonya Lalli

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Serena Singh believes in self-reliance. She doesn't have time for friendship or hobbies, and she wishes her mom would understand that she just doesn't want what her sister does -- a big, traditional wedding, followed by children. But a new friendship with a co-worker at her top DC advertising firm will challenge the way she thinks and, maybe, change her direction in life...

What Could Be Saved, by Lisa O'Holloran Schwarz (January 12, Atria Books)

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Alternating between 1972 Bangkok and 2019 DC, this novel tells the story of a woman piecing together her family's secrets -- including about a brother she never knew.

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC

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