Dating back to the early nineteenth century up through America's bicentennial, hundreds of novels can be found where the District of Columbia serves as the locale. And after the era of Vietnam protests and Watergate, everyone-the Washington Post noted-seemed to be writing a Washington novel. While many of these are works of genre fiction in which Washington serves as a backdrop, there have also been several insightful literary novels. Copies of the post-1976 texts can be fairly easily located, however, books published before this era are not quite as accessible. Furthermore, no single source has ever offered a comprehensive listing of works of fiction set in the nation's capitol. In The Washington, D.C. of Fiction, James A. Kaser provides detailed synopses for nearly 400 works published between 1822 and 1976, and bibliographic information for hundreds more published in the thirty years since. Because of the obscurity of so many authors of pre-1976 books, this book also contains a biographical information section, which follows the annotations. Plot summaries, names of major characters, and lists of Washington, D.C. settings are also provided.
Although this book was written to assist researchers in locating works of fiction for analysis, the plot summaries have enough detail for the general reader-who may never actually look at the novels themselves-that he or she can develop an understanding of the way attitudes toward Washington, and what the city has symbolized, have changed over the years. Similarly, the biographical section, aside from its main purpose in helping find useful information on obscure writers, demonstrates the wide range of people who were motivated to write about the city: journalists, politicians, society women, and freelance writers.