All Aunt Ha gar’s Children. Edward P. Jones has followed up a Pulitzer Prize–winning novel—The Known World—with an equally accomplished story collection. His tales of ordinary African-Americans in DC are as subtle as they are eye-opening.
Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero. A brilliant biography of Puerto Rican ballplayer and humanitarian Roberto Clemente by Washington Post reporter David Maraniss.
The Dream Life of Sukhanov. Olga Grushin—a Russian-born author living in Washington—has written a quiet, delicate novel about an old man in the changing Soviet Union who is hard to like but works his way into our affections.
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. This book by former Post Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran traces the year when Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority were in charge of Iraq. In some ways a nonfiction version of Graham Greene’s Vietnam novel, The Quiet American, it’s a powerful lesson on the damage the best-intentioned can inflict.
Lost and Found. DC writer Carolyn Parkhurst’s second novel didn’t get the attention of her first, The Dogs of Babel, but should have. A trendy premise—a behind-the-scenes look at an Amazing Race–like reality show—develops into a multilayered story that’s witty, touching, and very real.
Prisoners: A Muslim & a Jew Across the Middle East Divide. In this memoir, Washington-based New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg recounts his odyssey from American Jew in love with Israel to member of the Israeli army, where he finds himself guarding a Palestinian with whom he bonds and spars over motives and metaphysics. As the title suggests, captivity can be in thought as much as in place.
Finally, this list, like last year’s, features a pair of riveting novels by DC-noir master George Pelecanos and thriller writer Daniel Silva. Pelecanos’s is The Night Gardener, Silva’s The Messenger. All authors should be so reliable.