“I had been the one saying, ‘We need to move to the United States,’ ” Messud says, mocking her own complaint in a whining, mousy voice. “But I didn’t mean Washington! And I was miserable there, miserable. I always felt that all the people who you knew and hadn’t been friends with in college—they were all in Washington.” Messud’s real friends were in New York, which she insisted on visiting every free weekend. At Washington parties, the icebreaker question was what government sector you worked in. “To be writing a novel—forget it.” “I remember practically stamping my foot fifteen years ago,” Messud says, again in that mousy voice: “ ‘I want to live in Brooklyn, I don’t want to live in any more second-rate cities! Why can’t I ever live in a first-rate city?’ ”

— Brooklyn is first rate, and DC is not?  

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