Home/Releases/2017 AJC Decatur Book Festival Keynote Discusses Role of Journalism

2017 AJC Decatur Book Festival Keynote Discusses Role of Journalism



ATLANTA, Ga (June 12, 2017) – The role of journalism in today’s ever-changing world takes center stage to open the 2017 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival (DBF), September 1-3.

National Public Radio host Brooke Gladstone headlines a panel of journalists for the DBF Keynote event, 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. The panel also will include Carolyn Ryan, an editor with the New York Times, and Wesley Lowery, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from The Washington Post.

The conversation kicks off the 2017 festival at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Distribution of free tickets will be announced at a later date. Kevin Riley, editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will moderate.

“Journalism has played an incredibly important role in our nation’s history, and continues to do so in this new environment,” said Daren Wang, DBF founder and executive director. “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.”

Gladstone is the co-host of the Peabody Award-winning radio show and podcast “On the Media” from WNYC Studios, heard weekly by 1.2 million listeners via more than 420 NRP affiliate stations. Gladstone also will speak in a separate session about her new book “The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time.”

Ryan was named assistant editor in charge of recruitment in early 2017. Before being moved into her new position, she led The New York Times political coverage during the 2016 presidential election. Ryan also served as Washington bureau chief after helping run its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of then governor Eliot Spitzer.

Lowery, who covers law enforcement and justice for The Washington Post, led the paper’s coverage of the events in Ferguson, Mo., and the Black Lives Matter protest movement. As part of the festival, Lowery will discuss his book “They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives.” Lowery’s work also has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

On Saturday and Sunday of the festival, stages throughout downtown Decatur will be filled with some of the biggest names in literature. Highlights of the adult programming stages include:


  • 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 “ 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 Timesbestselling 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 Timesscience 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.