In his new book, The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion (Simon & Schuster, August 2018), Steven Weisman writes about how Jews in 18th- and 19th-century America struggled to reconcile the competing demands of their religion and modern life. The Bethesda resident had read scholarly material on the topic and wanted to tell the personal stories and conflicts of the immigrants. “I think anyone who is searching for answers to faith and God—not even necessarily people who believe in God but people who are searching and wondering what the purpose is of religion and prayer—will find this book interesting,” says Weisman, a former correspondent and editor at The New York Times.
When George Pelecanos started writing crime novels, he decided to always set them in or around working-class Washington, D.C. “That’s my life’s work,” says the 61-year-old, who was born in the District, lives in Silver Spring and is a writer and producer for HBO. “There was a hole in the literature that I wanted to fill. I figured by the time I was done—and I’m not done yet—I will have left behind a library of books about the city.” Unlike his 20 other books, The Man Who Came Uptown (Mulholland Books, September 2018) has a love story and is focused on one man’s journey after being released from prison. The main character discovered books while incarcerated, thanks to the prison’s librarian, and struggles to find his place in the newly gentrified Washington, D.C.
Rockville’s John Lingan first went to Winchester, Virginia, to write about Patsy Cline, the city’s famous native daughter and country music legend. He came to realize that her legacy was tied into the area’s changing culture and decided to write about the tension amid rural decline and development. His new book, Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2018), revolves around local country music icon and DJ Jim McCoy, and the evolution he witnessed from the lens of the famous Troubadour Bar & Lounge that he built in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lingan predicts Winchester—just 70 miles west of Bethesda—will become a genuine D.C. commuter suburb within the next decade and that its residents will begin to feel more like our neighbors.
The Knowledge (Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2018) is Martha Grimes’ 24th mystery featuring detective Richard Jury—a kind, empathetic character with a great sense of humor who has bad luck with women. In this story, Jury follows the investigation of a double homicide in London, after which the criminal flees to Nairobi. The plot includes twists that involve Kenyan art, a Tanzanian gem mine and a pub that can only be found by cabdrivers with knowledge of its location. “This is the first time I’ve ever employed Africa,” says the 86-year-old Bethesda author, who was inspired after traveling to Kenya and Tanzania a few years ago. She names her mysteries after pubs, most of which she’s visited, but for this book she invented “The Knowledge.”