Best D.C. Novelist Who’s Hardly Ever Written About D.C.

Howard Norman
Howard Norman has long been a fixture in D.C.’s literary landscape as a teacher in the University of Maryland’s MFA program. But the District has yet to make its way into his fiction: His eight novels (including his latest, Next Life Might Be Kinder) are set in Canada’s Maritime provinces, where a steady gloom pervades and art provides brief moments of spiritual uplift for characters who are almost inevitably undone by love. Yet Norman’s particular brand of melancholy is inspiring and philosophical, where for other writers it’d just be grumpy and dark—and on the evidence of his stellar 2013 memoir, I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place, not very distant from his own experiences.