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Journalism will be the focus of this year’s Decatur Book Festival

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Journalism will be the focus of this year’s Decatur Book Festival


The Mascot for the Decatur Book Festival. Source: https://www.facebook.com/DecaturBookFestival

Journalism, and its role in shaping America, will be the focus of this year’s Decatur Book Festival.

The book festival takes place throughout Decatur, Sept. 1-3. The keynote speaker is National Public Radio host Brooke Gladstone, who will be headlining a panel of journalists at the event. The panel will be “discussing the importance of journalism in a time of the 24-hour news cycle, social media generated fake news and society’s perceptions of media today.”

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Gladstone hosts “On the Media”, a Peabody-award winning radio show. There will also be a separate discussion of her new book “The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time.”

Panelists will include New York Times editor Carolyn Ryan and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Wesley Lowery from the Washington Post.

“Journalism has played an incredibly important role in our nation’s history, and continues to do so in this new environment,” Decatur Book Festival founder and Executive Director Daren Wang said. “One of our goals is to celebrate writing that has an impact, so the topic fits perfectly and sets a tone for this year’s programming.”

This years Kidsnote speakers are Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. They will speak Friday, Sept. 1, at the Decatur High School Performing Arts Center. They co-authored the children’s books  “Hank Zipzer” and “Here’s Hank.” Winkler, of course, is best known for his role as The Fonz on “Happy Days.”

Here is the full list of speakers at this year’s Festival, provided by DBF.


·       Bestselling author Tom Perrotta brings a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity from the frontlines of America’s culture wars in “Mrs. Fletcher.”

·       National Book Award winner Charles Frazier returns to the festival to discuss the twentieth anniversary edition of his iconic novel, “Cold Mountain,” and to give us a preview of his forthcoming Civil War novel.

·       Award-winning author Daniel Handler (also known as Lemony Snicket), offers a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man with “All the Dirty Parts.”

·       Thrity Umrigar, the best-selling, critically acclaimed author, deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in “Everybody’s Son.”

·       “In I Know a Secret,” favorite author Tess Gerritsen brings her twelfth gripping novel featuring Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, the crime-solving duo who are faced with a gruesomely staged murder of a horror film producer.

·       The New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood in her debut novel, “The Idiot.”

·       Daren Wang launches his debut novel, “The Hidden Light of Northern Fires,” which is rooted in history and tells a story of redemption amidst a war that tore families and the country apart.


·       National Magazine Award-winning investigative journalist Luke Dittrich explores the scientific, ethical, and human dimensions of one of the most important stories in the history of medicine in “Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets.”

·       Krista Tippett, host of “On Being”, presents a master class in living, drawn from stories of extraordinary individuals who possess “spiritual genius” with “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.”

·       In “We Need to Talk,” celebrated local public radio host Celeste Headlee makes the case that we all have an urgent need to have important and sometimes dreaded conversations.

·       Bestselling author Joyce Maynard brings “The Best of Us,” a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss.

·       Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world in “Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.”

·       John T. Edge reveals how Southerners shaped American culinary identity and how race relations impacted Southern food culture over six revolutionary decades in “The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.”


·       Steve Raichlen, American’s foremost grilling authority, will be demonstrating some of his tasty barbecue sauces and rubs.

·       Jerry Slater and Sara Camp Milam demonstrate tasty creations from “The Southern Foodways Guide to Cocktails.”


·       In “Caesar’s Last Breath,” New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe.

·       New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata follows a family through genetic illness and one courageous daughter who decides her fate shall no longer be decided by a genetic flaw in “Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, a Family’s Genetic Destiny, and the Science That Rescued Them.”


·       In her collection “Scald,” Denise Duhamel presents poems that engage feminism in two ways, committing to and battling with various principles and beliefs.

·       Rebecca Gayle Howell shares American Pergatory¸ a story of the working class, a dystopia set in a near-future United States marked by severe drought, herbicidal warfare and a totalitarian climate of poverty

·       Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sanchez shares her powerful debut poetry collection, “Lessons on Expulsion,” which explores what it means to live on both sides of the border – the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead.


·      Judy Schachner, author of the popular Skippyjon Jones books, returns to launch “Sarabella’s Thinking Cap.”

·      Local author Laurel Snyder shares her critically acclaimed middle grade novel, “Orphan Island,” a story about nine children who live on an island without adult supervision.

·      Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and author of “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World” is joined by Silicon Valley native Tamara Ireland Stone, author of the new fiction series “Click’d,” for an inspiring and empowering conversation on girls and women in today’s high tech world.

Young Adult

·      Newbery and Coretta Scott King award winner Kwame Alexander, joined by singer-songwriter Randy Preston, brings poetry and music to life with his new novel, “Solo,” which is “a rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll.”

·      Atlanta authors Becky Albertalli, Roshani Chokshi, Lauren Karcz and Marie Marquardt will discuss their latest works.

·      Nnedi Okorafor shares the paperback release of her bestselling “Akata Witch,” a coming of age novel that has been called “the Nigerian Harry Potter.”

·      Bram Stoker award winning author Jonathan Maberry will take the stage to discuss his book “Mars One.”

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