Joyce Carol Oates to kick off AJC Decatur Book Fest

Organizers announce full schedule and participating authors for ninth annual DBF


Iconic literary figure Joyce Carol Oates will deliver the keynote address at this year’s ninth annual AJC Decatur Book Festival, organizers announced yesterday during a festive private launch party at Eddie’s Attic. Oates will kick off the weekend on Fri., Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University. She’ll be joined onstage by her biographer (Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates) and Atlanta resident, Dr. Greg Johnson.

The event will mark the launch of her new short story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories. In the past 50 years, 40 of Oates’ works have been included in the New York Times annual list of notable books.

Other 2014 highlights include the addition of several programming tracks, including healthy and local (featuring an outdoor cooking stage), romance, LGBT, a Civil War track to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, and a Pat Conroy track, featuring the author himself and other writers he’s selected. The 2012 DBF keynote speaker and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway returns this year to discuss the PBS News Hour poetry series she created with cartoonist/poet Jeffrey Brown. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan will recount growing up in south Georgia during the Jim Crow era in his new book Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine.

See the full list of participating authors and other AJC | DBF highlights at decaturbookfestival.com.

? ? ?
Fiction author Wiley Cash will make his AJC DBF debut this year. The success of his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, earned him widespread accolades. Cash once again delivers a heartfelt and gripping narrative with his new novel, This Dark Road to Mercy. Set in the late 1990s, when Americans took profound interest in the home-run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, This Dark Road to Mercy is part coming-of-age story, part gothic thriller, and a vivid addition to Cash’s growing list of spectacular novels.

Ann Hood, who is scheduled to launch her latest book, An Italian Wife, at this year’s festival, has won multiple food, travel, and spiritual writing awards. She is the author of the bestselling novels The Red Thread, The Knitting Circle, and Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine. An Italian Wife opens in Italy at the beginning of the 20th Century and follows the story of heroine Josephine Rimaldi, her children, and her grandchildren as they grow up in 1950s and 1970s America, respectively.

John Scalzi is one of the most popular and acclaimed science fiction authors to emerge in the past decade. His massively successful debut, Old Man’s War, won him science fiction’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include Redshirts- which also won 2013’s Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel - as well as The Last Colony and Fuzzy Nation. Scalzi’s late August release of Lock In takes place 15 years from the present after a new virus sweeps the globe. Nearly all the afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches; four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history; and one percent find themselves “locked in” - fully awake and aware but unable to move or respond to stimuli.

New York Times bestselling author Karen Abbott will be one of several authors appearing on the Civil War Track. Abbott returns to the AJC DBF to launch her new book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. This fascinating historical account comprises the stories of four courageous women - a socialite, a farm girl, an abolitionist, and a widow - who all were spies during the Civil War. A nonfiction read that cements Abbot’s role as a “pioneer of sizzle history,” Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy illuminates the saucier secrets of the Civil War.

Natasha Trethewey last spoke at the AJC DBF as the keynote speaker in 2012, just as she was named Poet Laureate, both of the United States and of the state of Mississippi. As Poet Laureate, Trethewey created a poetry series for the PBS News Hour with cartoonist and poet Jeffrey Brown. They will reunite again to discuss the work behind the series at this year’s AJC DBF in a talk moderated by Rob Casper of The Library of Congress. The recipient of a Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, Trethewey was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year. She has been inducted into both the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Philip Lymbery is CEO of Compassion in World Farming, the leading international farm animal welfare organization. Lymbery appears at this year’s festival with Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, a groundbreaking examination of mega-farming, a practice that threatens our farms, our food, and our world. Farmageddon reveals the human cost of mega-farming and is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to define a better farming future.

Ted Rall is the author and illustrator of numerous graphic novels, books of political criticism, and travel writings. Rall will launch his latest graphic book, After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests, on this year’s Graphic Lit Track. After traveling deep into Afghanistan - unembedded, unlike other writers and journalists - Rall filed daily reports by satellite that provided evidence as to what was actually happening on the ground. Rall brings to life the realities of 21st Century Afghanistan through a mix of travelogue, photography, and award-winning comics.

In Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine, Dr. Louis Sullivan recounts his extraordinary life, beginning with his childhood in downstate, Jim Crow-gripped downstate Georgia, and detailing his trailblazing endeavors to become a physician in an almost entirely white environment in the Northeast. He cane home to found the Morehouse School of Medicine before serving as Secretary of Health and Human Services during former President George H. W. Bush’s administration. Throughout his remarkable life, Sullivan has advocated to both improve health care and increase access to medical education for the poor and for people of color. Sullivan’s life embodies the hope and progress that the civil rights movement fought to achieve.

Allan Gurganus is a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Gurganus’ first book in 12 years, Local Souls, is composed of three novellas that revisit the town of Falls, N.C., a setting made famous in his book Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. Described as a “Winesburg, Ohio with high-speed internet,” Local Souls deftly depicts the post-20th-Century South.

General Anthony Zinni (Ret.) was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Peace Envoy to the Middle East before retiring as a four-star general. Zinni will launch his latest book, Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win or Lose Off the Battlefield, at this year’s festival. Analyzing past U.S. military experiences, particularly the most recent, Zinni calls for widespread change to how the U.S. decides to go to war, pinpointing ways to approach the process with clearer vision and focus that, ultimately, lead to better military strategies.

Named “one of the finest Young Adult novelists writing today” by Entertainment Weekly, bestselling and award winning Young Adult author Maggie Stiefvater introduces Sinner, the spinoff to her popular Shiver Trilogy. Fans will be excited to find out what has become of Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character in the original trilogy, as he travels to California to find someone with whom he shares a past and a bond.

Bestselling author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi returns to the festival with The Battle for WondLa, the final installment in his futuristic trilogy about a young girl trying to find her home. DiTerlizzi also created the art for this year’s festival poster. In late Fall 2014, he will team with Lucasfilm to retell the story of Luke Skywalker in a picture book featuring the original concept art of Ralph McQuarrie.

Since the 1970s, artist William Wegman has famously photographed his family dogs - all Weimaraners. His art is respected and shown throughout the world. At this year’s festival, he launches his latest picture book, Flo & Wendell Explore, featuring his two puppies and combining his endearing photography with charming paintings.