Jacqueline Woodson, Patrick Phillips, Kevin Young, Alexander Chee highlight adult programming at 2016 AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical

Aug 24, 2016

Appearances by acclaimed author of Another Brooklyn Jacqueline Woodson, National Endowment for the Arts fellow Patrick Phillips, Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry winner Kevin Young and Whiting Award winner Alexander Chee highlight the adult programming at the 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (DBF), which runs from Sept. 2 to Sept 4.

Across a number of genres, in panel discussions and author presentations that will be alternately sober and colorful but always thought-provoking, DBF offers a wide array of programming and authors for adults.

In 2015, DBF Founding Executive Director Daren Wang launched the #READdifferent campaign, challenging festival-goers to read outside of their preferred genres. Having diversity of topics and among the authors themselves is a core value of the AJC Decatur Book Festival and the adult programming reflects that year after year.

“One of our goals at the Decatur Book Festival is to provide engrossing speakers and sessions for adults of all ages and interests,” Programming Director Julie Wilson said. “We believe we have achieved that once again with this year’s programming. Whether you are interested in poetry, archeology, graphic novels, mixology or investigations into institutional racism, we have something for you.”

Below are notable authors and panel discussions at this year’s DBF:


  • Woodson, the 2014 National Book Award winner for her New York Times’ bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, will present on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary presented by Emory University.
  • Chee, who will present his novel The Queen of the Night, will participate in a session titled “Alternative History” on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Decatur Sanctuary presented by the AJC.
  • Nicole Dennis-Benn, whose novel Here Comes the Sun was listed among the best books to read this summer and this year by numerous publications, including The New York Times and Publishers Weekly, will join a panel titled “Youth and Freedom” on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Marriott Conference Center C.
  • Terry Kay, a member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Governor’s Award in the Humanities, will discuss The King Who Made Paper Flowers in a session by the same name on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by the AJC.


  • Phillips’ Blood at the Root is a gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America. He will be introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hank Klibanoff and interviewed by 19th Poet Laureate of the United States Natasha Trethewey during a session named for his book on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Marriot Conference Center B presented by Atlanta Pro AV.
  • Carol Anderson, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and Chair of the Africa American Studies department at Emory University, will present her book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide in a session on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary presented by Emory University.
  • Three authors will discuss the science of archeology. Two veteran archeologists, Elizabeth Reitz and Martha Zierden, will present on Saturday at 10 a.m. in a session named after their book, “Charleston: An Archaeology of Life in a Coastal Community,” and Lydia Pyne, who holds doctorates in history and philosophy of science from Arizona State University, will present Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World’s Most Famous Human Fossils on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Marriott Conference Center A presented by DeKalb Medical.


  • Called “one of the most important poets of his generation” by The Washington Post, Emory University Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing Kevin Young will participate in a session titled “A Sense of Self, A Sense of Place” on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. at Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary presented by Emory University. Major Jackson, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and poetry editor of the Harvard Review, also will present his own poetry.

Panel Discussions

  • “Portraits of Urbanity”: Highly renowned artists Ben Katchor and Nate Powell provide a space for topics on the changing modern urban landscape. Katchor has written picture stories that include Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer and Hotel & Farm. Powell, a New York Times’ bestselling graphic novelist, has illustrated the graphic novel trilogy of Civil Rights icon John Lewis, DBF’s Keynote speaker in 2013 when the first book of the March trilogy launched. Powell’s presence this year at DBF coincides with the series’ final installment, March: Book Three, which brings the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation.
    • Saturday, 11:15 a.m., Decatur Recreation Center Studio.
  • “A Fresh Look At Where We’ve Been”: In 2013, George S. Hart and Sonny Seals co-founded the nonprofit Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. They have co-written a book by that name. Along with William Ferris, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, these three historians of the South will discuss how they use photographs to tell distinctive stories from our past.
    • Saturday, 3 p.m., First Baptist Church of Decatur Carreker Hall presented by MailChimp.
  • “Celebrating Georgia’s Pulitzer Prize Winners”: Klibanoff, Trethewey and AJC cartoonist Mike Luckovich —each of whom has won the prestigious award — read the work of three long-ago Pulitzer winners, as the Pulitzer Prizes celebrate their centennial this year.
    • Saturday, 5:30 p.m., First Baptist Church of Decatur Sanctuary presented by the AJC.

Food and Cooking Stage Presented by Springer Mountain Farms (located on the MARTA Plaza)

  • “Uniquely Southern Cocktails”: Wall Street Journal bestselling author Fred Minnick and Robert F. Moss, a contributing barbecue editor for Southern Living, discuss the region’s love affair with cocktails.
    • Saturday, 1:45 p.m.
  • “Legacy Cookbook — The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis”: executive chef of Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails Todd Richards and Ted Lee, co-author along with his brother Matt of the 2007 James Beard Cookbook of the Year, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, begin a new tradition to celebrate the late Lewis. Each year, a recipe from Lewis’ classic cookbook will be demoed by selected chefs.
    • Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • “Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes”: Born in Seoul, Korea, Robin Ha has been published in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal magazine. Ha utilizes a unique combination of cookbook and graphic novel as an ideal introduction to cooking Korean cuisine at home.
    • Sunday, noon.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (DBF) is the largest independent book festival in the country. Over Labor Day weekend tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond share the historic 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.