The Solomon Scandals by now is historical fiction, a mix of the real and imagined. But David Rothman was alive back in the 1970s to write of corruption in the federal office leasing program and trigger a congressional investigation. In fact, he wrote the book’s first draft back then.
Now working on his third novel, Rothman has also written six nonfiction books and Drone Child: A Novel of War, Family, and Survival. He founded TeleRead, the world’s oldest English-language site devoted to general e-book news and views, as well as library-related matters.
Rothman grew up in Alexandria, Virginia—a future Watergater lived almost next door. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rothman worked as a reporter for the Journal in Lorain, Ohio, where he covered poverty and public housing and was a feature writer. He chronicled the aftermath of the Kent State massacre, which actually comes up in The Solomon Scandals, even though this is by far a Washington novel.
He is an occasional Georgetown Dish columnist and has appeared in other places ranging from Computerworld and an MIT Press/ASIS information science collection to the Nation, the Washington Post, and the online version of Publishers Weekly. The cause of well-stocked national digital library systems is dear to him, and you can read his thoughts here and here on the Atlantic’s Web site, as well as his essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education. He co-founded LibraryEndowment.org, calling for a national library endowment.
Not so coincidentally, some library mentions—and a few reflections on the future of books—show up as part of the plot of The Solomon Scandals.
See The Jonathan Stone-David Rothman Q. & A. for more about Rothman’s real-life adventures investigating the General Services Administration and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff’s secret investment in a GSA-leased building housing some CIA activities. Ribicoff was a close friend of Charles E. Smith, a major GSA contractor.
In Scandals as a Northern Virginia Jewish novel, you can read Rothman’s reflections on growing up Chosen in the Old Dominion. And in Scandals’ origins, you can learn how Scandals came to be written as fiction.
Update #1, Sept. 2, 2009: Here’s a 2,900-word interview with Rothman covering topics ranging from literary influences to his thoughts on Scandals as movie fodder.
Update #2, April 18, 2010: Scandals was required reading in a history course at George Washington University. For it, Rothman did a Q & A with Rothman: Henry Adams and the Education of David Rothman.
E-mail address: Davidrothman@pobox.com.