When I first began this site, my reviews were limited to DC books, authors, bookstores, and events. Though I’ve since expanded my reviews to cover all of my interests, you never forget your first love. And so, I give you my top ten list of DC authors!
10. Sarah Pekkanen
Sarah Pekkanen is a relatively new author to me. But when I heard about the local connection, I was on her latest book, Skipping a Beat, like white on rice. A book set in DC, written by a DC author? Yes, please. Pekkanen didn’t disappoint, and I am looking forward to her third book, These Girls, to be published in April 2012. Pekkanen is certainly an author to watch.
9. Dan Pink
I was very impressed with Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind, one of the first books I ever reviewed. Pink’s prose is eloquent and seamless, and his topics are as well-researched as they are fascinating. His other books explore how to get the job you’ve dreamed of, how to leave that job to work independently, and how to harness ambition to work better and smarter.
8. W. Ralph Eubanks
Ever Is a Long Time, Ralph Eubanks’s account of growing up in segregated Mississippi, is fascinating and informative. I enjoyed attending the Politics and Prose reading of his second book, The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South; Eubanks’s unique family history seems to provide endless material for his books, and I’m not complaining.
7. Blair Ruble
In order to understand DC, you need to read Washington’s U Street by Blair Ruble. He focuses upon the iconic U Street neighborhood to contextualize the overlooked histories of DC residents in an accessible, conversational tone.
6. George Pelecanos
George Pelecanos is perhaps the best known–certainly among the most prolific–of the DC author scene. No one takes on the gritty reality of the city’s streets like Pelecanos; I enjoyed The Turnaround, but I’ve heard good things about pretty much all of his books. In addition, he was a producer of and writer for “The Wire,” a show that reveals the lives of Baltimoreans in much the same way that Pelecanos explores the subcultures of DC.
5. Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman is another new-to-me author whom I’ve begun following assiduously. I was impressed with the quiet thrill of I’d Know You Anywhere, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting her next novel, The Most Dangerous Thing.
4. Dinaw Mengestu
I was blown away by Dinaw Mengestu’s characterization and prose in The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears; it was one of my top 5 books in 2010. I was disappointed by Mengestu’s second book, How to Read the Air, but perhaps that just goes to show that Mengestu is best suited to writing about DC!
3. Edward P. Jones
Edward P. Jones’s The Known World is brilliant and dark, with refreshingly original ways of introducing and describing characters that hearkens back to Jones’s mastery of the short story form; he has also published two collections of short stories, All Aunt Hagar’s Children and Lost in the City. Jones is a masterful storyteller.
2. Kathryn Smith
Few people have done more than Kathy Smith to record and preserve the histories embedded in DC’s neighborhoods. Her comprehensive collection of essays on DC, Washington at Home, is now in its second edition. This book is a must for DC bibliophiles.
1. Carolyn Parkhurst
I cannot say enough good things about Carolyn Parkhurst. (If I keep trying, I’m worried she’ll issue a restraining order.) Bethanne Patrick recently commented, “Those who have read Parkhurst’s previous work will know that she could find humor and pathos in a phone directory.” I loved Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album with a fervor surprising even to me. The only reason I’ve waited this long to read The Dogs of Babel is because then I wouldn’t have anything of Parkhurst’s to look forward to for a while.
Have you read any of the authors on this list? Who did I miss?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!