September 4-6, 2009

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The AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical

Robert Olen Butler

Festival Appearance(s):

Robert Olen Butler has published 11 novels and five volumes of short fiction, one of which, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His Pulitzer book is comprised of stories in the voices of Vietnamese exiles in the United States and draws on the rich mythic storytelling traditions of the Vietnamese culture. That was the beginning of his movement as a writer toward fantasy elements. His book of stories, Tabloid Dreams (1996) is based on fantastic headlines of the sort found in certain tabloid newspapers. A story from that collection, “JFK Secretly Attends Jackie Auction” was chosen for inclusion in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection. Another story, “Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot” was in Best American Short Stories and is very widely anthologized in classrooms. The central character and narrator of his novel Mr. Spaceman (2000) is a space alien who has temporarily kidnapped a charter bus full of gamblers heading for a Louisiana casino in order to interview them in preparation for publicly revealing himself to mankind. His collection of 62 very short stories, Severance (2006) gives voice to the last minute-and-a-half of lingering consciousness in 62 recently severed heads, many of which were prominently decapitated historical figures. And his new novel, entitled Hell, is set entirely in that very place with a central character who is the anchorman for the TV Evening News in Hell. Butler teaches creative writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. He lives in Capps, Florida, which has a population of one, if you don’t count the ghosts in his pre-American Civil War plantation home.

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