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DC reads: Voices of D.C.

DC Reads is back, and this year, it is bigger, better and more D.C. than ever. In partnership with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, we are inviting the community to read and discuss three different titles written by members of D.C.'s literary community. We will host three different online book discussions culminating in a live conversation with all three authors at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in February. You will be able to check out each of the books with your library card or look for giveaway copies of the book at your neighborhood library courtesy of the DC Public Library Foundation.

DC Reads is a DC Public Library program that promotes citywide conversations focused on a single book. Past titles have included How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith, Good Talk by Mira Jacob, and Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. We are delighted to expand the program to three titles this year and focus on writers from right here in the D.C. community. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation champions the breadth and power of fiction in America. Their participation in DC Reads is made possible by Shreve Williams Public Relations.

The Sunset Crowd

The Sunset Crowd book cover

About the book: Meet LA darling Evra Scott. The daughter of an Oscar-winning director and a Brazilian bombshell actress, Evra is the city’s reigning style queen. By day, she’s at the helm of Sunset on Sunset, the store beloved by Hollywood’s young and beautiful. By night, she’s on the arm of Kai de la Faire, Hawaii’s hottest export, and the screenwriter of the moment.
Enter Theodora Leigh. Theodora’s got the talent and instincts, but she’s not willing to wait. Luckily, getting ahead by any means necessary is LA’s mantra.

Observing it all is Bea Dupont, a photographer for Rolling Stone and Vogue, who never misses the party, but always keeps to its fringes. A Manhattan blue blood turned West Coast bohemian, Bea holds Evra’s Sunset crowd together. 
But in Hollywood, no one stays on top forever. And it’s not long before Theodora’s unrelenting ambition sets in motion a dramatic quest for power in an industry that is as glamorous as it is duplicitous.

Check out The Sunset Crowd

About the author: Karin Tanabe is the author of over half a dozen novels, including A Woman of Intelligence and The Gilded Years. A former Politico reporter, her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, and Newsday. She has appeared as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and CBS Early Show. Karin is a graduate of Vassar College and lives in Washington, D.C.

Check out other books by Karin Tanabe


Jan. 31, 7 p.m. | Virtual Book Club

Our second January discussion will focus on Karin Tanabe's The Sunset Crowd, a cool, suspenseful page-turner. Check out the book with your library card or look for giveaway copies of the book at your neighborhood library courtesy of the DC Public Library Foundation. Register below, and we will send information about the online conversation as well as the following event in February.

Register for the Jan. 31 Book Club

The Sunset Crowd Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss the different paths each character takes to get fame and fortune. Do you think any one is better than the others?
  2. Think about the plots of Jennifer’s Tigers and One New York Summer. How are they similar, and how are they different?
  3. Why do you think Bea rebelled in her younger years? How does she rebel once she becomes an adult?
  4. Crowns are mentioned several times throughout the book, most poignantly in the song “Neon Crown”. What do you think a crown represents here?
  5. Discuss the feminist components of this novel. How would they have been different if the story was set in another time period?

The Sunset Crowd Read-A-Likes

Upcoming DC Reads

Feb. 7 | DC Reads: Voices of D.C. Panel Discussion

Voices of D.C. with Morowa Yejidé, Karin Tanabe, and Tania James

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. | Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 

To culminate DC Reads, join the Library and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation for "Voices of DC," a PEN/Faulkner Literary Conversation.

Voices of DC will bring together DC writers Morowa Yejidé, Karin Tanabe, Tania James, and moderator Lauren Francis-Sharma for a conversation about the craft of historical fiction, and the ways in which their work helps us make sense of the present day. The event will include a Q&A with the audience, and the Library will provide ASL interpretation.

Register for the DC Reads: Voices of D.C. Panel Discussion

Previous DC Reads

Dec. 4 | Creatures of Passage

Creatures of Passage

About the Book

With echoes of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Yejidé’s novel explores a forgotten quadrant of Washington, DC, and the ghosts that haunt it.

Nephthys Kinwell is a taxi driver of sorts in Washington, DC, ferrying ill-fated passengers in a haunted car: a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with a ghost in the trunk. Endless rides and alcohol help her manage her grief over the death of her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River. Unknown to Nephthys when the novel opens in 1977, her estranged great-nephew, ten-year-old Dash, is finding himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. When Dash arrives unexpectedly at Nephthys's door one day bearing a cryptic note about his unusual conversations with the River Man, Nephthys must face both the family she abandoned and what frightens her most when she looks in the mirror.

Creatures of Passage beautifully threads together the stories of Nephthys, Dash, and others both living and dead. Morowa Yejidé's deeply captivating novel shows us an unseen Washington filled with otherworldly landscapes, flawed super-humans, and reluctant ghosts, and brings together a community intent on saving one young boy in order to reclaim themselves.

Check Out Creatures of Passage

About the Author

Morowa Yejidé, a native of Washington, DC, is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Time of the Locust, which was a 2012 finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize, long-listed for the 2015 PEN/Bingham Prize, and a 2015 NAACP Image Award nominee. Her most recent novel, Creatures of Passage, was shortlisted for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and a 2021 Notable Book selection by NPR and the Washington Post. She lives in the DC area with her husband and three sons.

Check Out More Work by Morowa Yejidé 

Jan. 10 | Loot

Loot - Tania James

About the Book

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION * A spellbinding historical novel set in the eighteenth century: a hero's quest, a love story, the story of a young artist coming of age, and an exuberant heist adventure that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism across two continents and fifty years.

Abbas is just seventeen years old when his gifts as a woodcarver come to the attention of Tipu Sultan, and he is drawn into service at the palace in order to build a giant tiger automaton for Tipu's sons, a gift to commemorate their return from British captivity. His fate--and the fate of the wooden tiger he helps create--will mirror the vicissitudes of nations and dynasties ravaged by war across India and Europe.

Working alongside the legendary French clockmaker Lucien du Leze, Abbas hones his craft, learns French, and meets Jehanne, the daughter of a French expatriate.  When Du Leze is finally permitted to return home to Rouen, he invites Abbas to come along as his apprentice. But by the time Abbas travels to Europe, Tipu's palace has been looted by British forces, and the tiger automaton has disappeared. To prove himself, Abbas must retrieve the tiger from an estate in the English countryside, where it is displayed in a collection of plundered art.

Many of the automata mentioned in the book are real and still exist, including the iconic tiger that's at the center of the narrative which can be viewed on the V&A website.

Check Out Loot

Tania James

About the Author

Tania James is the author of four works of fiction, all published by Knopf: The Tusk That Did the Damage, which was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Financial Times Oppenheimer Award; Aerogrammes and Other Stories, named a Best Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle; and the novel Atlas of Unknowns, which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a finalist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Her short stories have appeared in Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing; Granta; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; and One Story, among other places, and featured on Symphony Space Selected Shorts. She has received fellowships from the Macdowell Colony, Ragdale, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Fulbright Program.

 An associate professor of English in the MFA program at George Mason University, her new novel, Loot, was published by Knopf Doubleday in June 2023 and longlisted for the National Book Award for fiction. Rights have been sold to the UK (Harvill Secker), India (Penguin Randomhouse India), Alianz di Novelas (Spain), and Russia (LiveBook).

Check Out More Work by Tania James