A compulsively readable novel in the vein of The Bonfire of the Vanities—by way of The Nest—about what Washington, DC’s high society members do away from the Capitol building and behind the closed doors of their stately homes.
They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.
But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question.
They’re called The Cave Dwellers.
About the Author
Christina McDowell is the author of the critically acclaimed book, After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir, as well as the author of Cave Dwellers. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post; The New York Times; Los Angeles Times; HuffPost; The Guardian; O, The Oprah Magazine; People; LA Weekly; Marie Claire; USA TODAY; and The Village Voice, among others. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Christina is an advocate for restorative justice and criminal justice reform. She lives in Washington, DC.
“After reading this ruthless satire of their behavior, [the Capital's oldest and wealthiest families] probably can’t sue for slander, but they might want to beg for mercy. . . . For its merciless humor and brazen exposure of salon secrets, The Cave Dwellers should join that small collection of essential Washington books. . . . After all, this is an author who knows her victims’ antique attitudes and traditions as well as Marjorie Merriweather Post knew her china settings.” —The Washington Post
"Through blunt caricatures and sharp characterizations, McDowell...combines social satire with moral outrage to offer a masterfully crafted, absorbing read that can simply entertain on one level and provoke reasoned discourse on another."
—Booklist (starred review)
“McDowell’s mordant debut novel sends up the Washington, D.C., establishment. . . the drama is thick . . . the satire cuts deep.”
“Sharp, observant… The book is part comedy of manners, part cautionary tale, and part insiders-guide to the secret codes of power, but however you look at it, it's a delicious take on the one percent in our nation's capital.”
—Town & Country, “The 42 Must-Read Books of Spring 2021”
“Christina McDowell has written a delicious, cunningly plotted page-turner about my former home, Washington, D.C. She nails all kinds of insider nostrums, lies, handbags, tacky earrings, sexual predation, private clubs, teenage nihilism and most revealingly, racism, as only the elite can practice it at its most virulent. She’s a huge talent with a huge heart.”
—Lorraine Adams, author of Harbor and The Room and the Chair
“The Cave Dwellers is a provocative and extraordinary tale of family legacy, racism, classism and greed. In scathing prose, McDowell’s writing is as addictive as it is powerful. Love this book, and it’s still lingering in my mind weeks after reading it.”
—James Frey, New York Times bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces
“Can't get enough of the weirdness that is Washington! In this bold novel, McDowell uses a wild group of teenagers in Georgetown/Kalorama/Capitol Hill, (Yes, the places where the Obamas, the Kushners, and Jeff Bezos reside), to probe the privileged inner circle of their families, exposing the stupidity and failures of character of these dynastic swamp dwellers, nouveau-riche social climbers, womanizing, lying politicos—and nobody comes off well. The mystery surrounding the shocking murder of one family (based on a real event) deepens the darkness.”
—Lisa Howorth, author of Summerlings
“Racism, misogyny, and class hierarchy are all fair game, and the irony is inescapable and delicious. . . . A fascinating, gossipy glimpse into the lives of the one percent (with footnotes) that should appeal to readers who enjoyed The Assistants, by Camille Perri, or Capital Girls, by Ella Monroe.” —Library Journal
“Could be the most delicious Washington novel in recent memory . . . keenly observed, compelling . . . the novel uses a scalpel where others might deploy a hatchet . . . The Cave Dwellers would be a page turner no matter when it was released, but in today’s climate . . . it practically qualifies as required reading.” —Town & Country Magazine
"Author Christina McDowell...is back with her unputdownable debut novel, where the aristocratic bloodlines of Washington, D.C.'s high society—the Cave Dwellers—are forced to reconcile with the changing world around them when one of their own is brutally murdered." —Veranda