2013 Guide to the Decatur Book Festival
Each Labor Day weekend, hundreds of bestselling authors and their fans descend on Decatur, Georgia, for the biggest celebration of the written word in the country. The AJC Decatur Book Festival is now in its eight year and will present booksignings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, a writers conference and more in the historic downtown Decatur square August 30-September 1. This year’s event will include special guests Clyde Edgerton, inaugural poet Richard Blanco and some of our summer reading authors like Karen White, Wendy Wax, Claire Cook and Mary Alice Monroe. The festival has also announced a wide range of programming for children, the largest and most diverse LGBT track lineup in the festival’s history, a new Civil & Human Rights track and an arts and culture showcase.
With three days and so many authors and events spread out across over 20 locations, planning who to see and what to do during the festival can be a challenge. Below are some of the highlights for Southern lit fans that shouldn’t be missed.
Throughout the Weekend
Book as Art – The Decatur Arts Alliance, in conjunction with the gallery of The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, is excited to bring the first juried exhibition of artists’ books to the festival. The “Book as Art” gallery will be located on the Decatur square and open throughout the event.
Hidden Away: The Library at Night – Special performances after-hours, created by choreographer Nicole Livieratos and writer Phillip DePoy and staged by the Lucky Penny. Saturday and Sunday, 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library
Saturday, August 31
Hauntings and Healings with authors Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias – Ghosts from the past linger and end up affecting futures in novels by these two women. 10-10:45 a.m. on the Decatur Library Stage
Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking with Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart – Part of the festival’s Cooking track, Dupree and Graubart make it easy to learn the techniques for creating the South’s fabulous cuisine through more than 600 recipes and hundreds of step-by-step photographs. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on the Cook’s Warehouse Stage
Wives and Sisters in Fiction with authors Karen White and Jane Porter – Part of the festival’s Beach Reads track, these authors will be reading from their latest novels, which focus on the decisions women must make in regards to their families and their lives. 11:15 a.m.-noon at the Marriott Conference Center, Ballroom A
One Today featuring Richard Blanco (pictured) – Hear the inaugural poet who joined the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou at the beginning of this year. 11:15 a.m.-noon on the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage
The Strength Of Character: Self Discovery in Fiction with Jill authors McCorkle and Jennifer Haigh – The recipients of five prestigious writing awards between them, McCorkle and Haigh will read excerpts from their novels, which touch on self-discovery and realization. 1:45-2:30 at the Decatur Recreation Center Gym
Whistling Dixie featuring Anderson Scott – In his new book, photographer Anderson Scott provides a fresh view of latter-day Confederates who spend their time recreating the battles of the Civil War, sharing moments at a series of reenactments leading up to the sesquicentennial of the War. 1:45-2:30 p.m. on City Hall Stage
Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement with author Minrose Gwin – Gwin probes wide-ranging questions about collective memory and art as instruments of social justice in her new book about the life and legacy of Medgar Evers. 3-3:45 pm. at the Marriott Conference Center, Ballroom B
Surrounded by Friends with authors Wendy Wax and Claire Cook -Also part of the Beach Reads track, these two authors will talk about high school reunions, road trips and Downton Abbey. 4:15-5 p.m. at the Marriott Conference Center, Ballroom A
Rights in Fiction with authors Susan Rebecca White, Susan Crandall and Minrose Gwin – This literary trio will discuss the civil and human rights written about in their fictional novels during a panel discussion. 5:30-6:15 p.m. on First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary Stage
Sunday, September 1
Serenbe Playhouse: The Sleepy Hollow Experience – See a preview of the playhouse’s fall performance based on the original story by Washington Irving. 1:15-2 p.m. at Decatur High School Performing Arts Center
Family Ties with Cassandra King, Mary Alice Monroe and Kim Boykin – Moderated by Joshilyn Jackson, this program in the Beach Reads track presents three of the South’s top authors writing for women. 2:30-3:15 p.m. at the Decatur Recreation Center Gym
Lookaway, Lookaway with author Wilton Barnhardt – Barnhardt’s new novel debuts later this month and is a hilarious narrative of a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together. Learn more from the author himself. 3:45-4:30 p.m. on the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage
Beneath the Surface with Gillian Royes and Joshilyn Jackson – Decaturite Jackson will be joined by Royes for a discussion of their two books, which do share something in common: secrets bubbling beneath the surface. 5-5:45 p.m. at Eddie’s Attic
Hoping to be Struck By Lightning: The Complete Poems of James Dickey featuring Ward Briggs and Bronwen Dickey – A panel, including Dickey’s youngest daughter, will remember the American poet and novelist ‘s life and poems, insights and memories. 5-5:45 on the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage
See the full festival author lineup here. To purchase books during the festival, visit the Book Market and Street Fair with 160 exhibitors, including an expanded Kudzu Readers’ Lounge with a real Southern front porch for reading and sitting a spell.
Richard Blanco photo by Craig Dilger.