Christina McDowell is the author of the critically acclaimed book, After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir. The film rights were sold to Valparaiso Pictures in 2018. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, O (Oprah) Magazine, People Magazine, The Village Voice, LA Weekly and more. Her debut novel, The Cave Dwellers was released May 25, 2021 by Scout Press at Simon & Schuster, to rave reviews.
"For its merciless humor and brazen exposure of salon secrets, The Cave Dwellers should join that small collection of essential Washington books."
-The Washington Post
“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
"The satire here is deeply wounding; 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.”
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Christina is an advocate for restorative justice and criminal justice reform. She has traveled to state prisons to speak on behalf of families of the incarcerated and victims of crime. She taught creative writing to teenage girls at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles for two years and serves on the advisory board of POPS The Club (Pain of the Prison System), the first high school club in the U.S. to empower youth impacted by the mass incarceration crisis. She was honored for her outstanding advocacy work by the board of directors and its members in 2018.
The Cave Dwellers: A Novel
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 suburban mansions.
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. Parents and their children living life free of consequences in a gilded existence 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.
More Praise for The Cave Dwellers
“Through blunt caricatures and sharp characterizations, McDowell archly demonstrates her disdain for the superficiality of such an existence and 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.”
– PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY
“Christina McDowell's sharp, observant novel about a tribe of established, powerful Washington families whose secrets are tearing them apart. The book is part comedy of manners, part cautionary tale, and part insiders-guide to the secret codes of power… A delicious take on the one percent in our nation's capital.”
–TOWN & COUNTRY MAGAZINE
“Following the acclaimed After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir, this study of old money, new money, and class status in Washington, DC, confirms McDowell’s strength as a writer.”
– LIBRARY JOURNAL
“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
“Christina McDowell has written a delicious, cunningly plotted page-turner about my former home, Washington, DC. 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 Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
“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
More about Christina
Previously, Christina co-wrote op-ed articles with former Clinton and Bush White House spokesman, Robert Weiner, at The National Press Club. She provided in-depth research and analysis of current public policies, regulations and laws.
During the 2016 election, Christina was associate deputy director of the Pasadena field office for Californians for Voter Turnout Education and Registration.
In 2012, Christina co-produced and led research on the Netflix documentary, Survivor's Guide to Prison, directed by Academy Award nominated producer, Matthew Cooke and executive produced by Academy Award winning actress, Susan Sarandon.
Released in 2018.
Though Christina is not always able to respond to her readers, she loves hearing from them. You can email her below. And a big thank you for reading, as always.