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AJC DBF News

Literary icon Joyce Carol Oates announced as keynote speaker for 2014 AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical

Hundreds of authors, new and improved tracks, art initiatives, and activities for all ages and interests at the ninth annual event

June 17, 2014

(Atlanta) - Famed American literary icon Joyce Carol Oates will deliver the keynote address at the 2014 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (AJC DBF) Aug. 29 - 31.

Oates will kick off the ninth annual festival on Friday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University. She will be joined onstage by her biographer and Atlanta resident, Dr. Greg Johnson.

The event will mark the launch of her new short story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories. The new collection has been described as "insightful, disturbing, and breathtaking in its lyrical precision," and is said to display Oates' "magnificent ability to make visceral the terror, hurt, and uncertainty that lurks at the edges of ordinary lives."

Best known for her fiction, Oates' novels include Blonde, a bold reimagining of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe, and We Were the Mulvaneys, which follows the disintegration of an American family in the late 20th Century.

Since 1963, 40 of Oates' works have been included in the New York Times annual list of notable books. Among her many honors are two O. Henry Prizes, two Bram Stoker Awards, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle, the Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the PEN Center USA Award for Lifetime Achievement, and The Poets & Writers Distinguished Lifetime Award. In 2010, reflecting the widespread esteem in which her work is held, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

AJC DBF Executive Director Daren Wang said he is honored to have Joyce Carol Oates as the keynote speaker for this year's event.

"There are few authors - very, very few - that rise to Joyce Carol Oates' level of accomplishment. She has created 40 novels, many of them good enough to base an entire career upon, and countless stories, essays, and poems. Instead of listing the major awards she has won, it is much easier to list the one or two she unjustly has not," asserts Wang. "She does us all a great honor by coming to the Decatur Book Festival, but for me, having grown up less than 20 miles from her hometown of Millersport, NY, her keynoting the festival feels like an odd but wonderful kind of homecoming."

Following the keynote at Emory on Friday, the AJC DBF will kick off Saturday, Aug. 30 with a children's parade on the Decatur Square. Events and author presentations will continue in downtown Decatur throughout the weekend. A second children's parade will start Sunday's festivities, followed by another full day of author talks and events suited for all ages and interests.

AJC DBF Program Director Philip Rafshoon said he's especially proud of the distinct, eclectic lineup at this year's festival.

"Our lineup this year shows DBF's commitment to showcasing the widest variety of authors and subjects possible. With strong support from publishers and our community, we are, once again, able to provide the region with an unbelievable array of today's top writers and talent," said Rafshoon. "I'm extremely proud of our diverse lineup and glad to know that there is going to be something for everyone at this year's festival."

Author highlights for the 2014 AJC DBF include:

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.

The AJC DBF continues to grow, flourish, and offer new and diverse programming every year. This year is no exception. Highlights include:

art | DBF

The 2014 AJC DBF celebrates the second year of art | DBF with new installation artists, performances, presentations, interactive experiences, and increased offerings for teens, children, and families.

The Performing Arts Center at Decatur High School will be the dedicated main stage for art | DBF all weekend and will include Theatre du Reve's Jane, the Fox, and Me, a family-friendly production adapted from the graphic novel of the same name; an Art Papers live event featuring Emory Douglas, artist, activist, and former Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers; and a preview of The Sleepy Hollow Experience presented by Serenbe Playhouse. On your way to the art | DBF stage, check out the 50 plus arts presenters in the art | DBF neighborhood on North McDonough; witness installations by Kelly Kristin Jones, P. Seth Thompson, Mike Germon, John Carroll; and keep an eye out for pop-up performances throughout the festival.

For a creative break, make your own blackout poetry at the Blackout Collage Poetry Tent; get some tips on lantern-making from Art on the Beltline just in time for the annual Lantern Parade on Sept. 6; join Beautiful in Every Shade's second AJC DBF Open Shoot - part of their 50 Shades of Black and Typical American Families campaigns; and get in on the action with the Guerilla Haiku street team. Lastly, don't forget that the Community Bandstand will be alive with music and storytelling all weekend long.

New Outdoor Cooking Stage

The AJC DBF is excited to announce a new outdoor cooking stage sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms and the Guy Gunter Home. This updated and enlarged venue - located on N. McDonough at the site of the Decatur's Farmers Market - will feature nine cooking demonstrations from renowned chefs including Charmian Christie, also known as "The Messy Baker," and Jennifer Booker, who creates amazing dishes with both Southern and French influences. Answer the age-old question of "Will it Waffle?" with Canadian Daniel Shumski, and eat your veggies with the Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge.

Healthy & Local Track Presented by DeKalb Medical

In conjunction with AJC DBF's new outdoor cooking stage comes DeKalb Medical's new Healthy & Local Track, which will feature discussions and book signings from Daron Joffe, author of Citizen Farmers, and the Beekman Boys, among others. Discover Philip Lymbery's Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, and learn about the power and influence of food on culture as Marcie Ferris Cohen launches her new book, The Edible South.

Pat Conroy Track

Both curated by and featuring Pat Conroy, the new Pat Conroy Track includes authors personally selected by the literary giant himself. John Lang and Ron Rash will discuss Lang's new biography of Rash, Understanding Ron Rash. Rash will also give the keynote address at the AJC DBF Writer's Conference on Friday. Conroy will also introduce another great pairing, Mark Powell and Mark Sibley-Jones. He'll be one-on-one in conversation with rising star John Warley, and head up a panel of husband and wife writers that includes Cliff and Cynthia Graubart and Conroy's wife, author Cassandra King.

Decatur Makers Tent

Do you like to tinker with machines, create art, program robots, or prepare delicious treats? Then you're a maker, and you'll enjoy the newest feature at AJC DBF - the Makers Tent. With help from the Children's Museum of Atlanta, Little Shop of Stories, Big Nerd Ranch, and The Decatur Makers, AJC DBF has assembled a great lineup of interactive presentations and hands-on making. The Makers Tent will feature kid-friendly activities during the morning hours and activities for all ages in the afternoon. We will cover a wide range of activities from iOS app development to DIY fix-it tips, from beekeeping to solar power, and from box art to 3-D printing. Come visit the tent, and unleash your inner maker.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (AJC DBF) is the largest independent book festival in the country. Over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 29 - 31), tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond will share the historic downtown Decatur Square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food, and fun. For more information, visit www.decaturbookfestival.com, "like" Decatur Book Festival on Facebook, or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter.

Interviews available upon request.