The AJC Decatur Book Festival marks its 10th anniversary on Labor Day weekend with two powerhouse authors who together have helped shape feminist thought for more than 40 years.
Erica Jong will be the keynote speaker. Her iconoclastic 1973 novel “Fear of Flying” about the amorous adventures of Isadora Wing helped fuel the sexual revolution. She comes to the festival for the launch of her new novel, “Fear of Dying,” about Vanessa Wonderman, a 60-year-old former actress whose sexless marriage leads her into the darker corners of the World Wide Web.
For her keynote appearance, Jong will be interviewed on stage by Roxane Gay, who also curates the author’s track at this year’s festival. Gay published two critically acclaimed books last year. “Bad Feminist” is a collection of essays on everything from “Girls” and “The Help” to female friendships and abortion. “Untamed State” is a novel of suspense and terror about a kidnapping in Haiti. Together they prompted Time magazine to proclaim 2014 “the year of Roxane Gay.”
“Across publishing, it is often harder for women’s voices to be heard, so to have two women playing major roles in the festival this year is a good thing,” said Philip Rafshoon, the festival’s programming director.
Among the authors Gay brings to the fest are James Hannaham, author of “Delicious Foods,” and Celeste Ng, author of “Everything I Never Told You.”
The kidnote author is Judy Schachner, creator of the Skippyjon Jones picture books, featuring a big-eared Siamese cat and his Chihuahua friends.
The keynote and kidnote events will be held Friday, Sept. 4, and the festival kicks off Saturday, Sept. 5, with a children’s parade on the Decatur Square led by “The Day the Crayons Quit” author Drew Daywalt. A second children’s parade will be held Sunday, Sept. 6, led by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, who created the Fancy Nancy series.
Other highlights include a strong memoir track called Personal Journeys, featuring Jamie Brickhouse (“Dangerous When Wet”), Sarah Hepola (“Blackout”) and David Payne (“Barefoot to Avalon”). And the cooking stage, which moves to the corner of Ponce de Leon and Clairmont avenues, features demonstrations by a slew of local celebrity chefs, including Kevin Gillespie, Hugh Acheson, Steven Satterfield and Nathalie Dupree.
And once again, Art DBF brings a variety of performance art to the festival grounds, including Serenbe Playhouse’s “Secret Garden.”
The theme of the festival this year is Read Different, the point being that the festival has broadened its horizons over the years, and festivalgoers are encouraged to follow suit.
“When we started the Decatur Book Festival 10 years ago, I envisioned it as a bunch of novelists, because I love reading novels,” said festival director and co-founder Daren Wang. “And then Diane Capriola (of Little Shop of Stories) said we should have children’s authors. Then (DBF co-founder) Tom Bell insisted on adding poets. Now with the addition of Art DBF, we don’t just have writers, but we have dancers and playwrights and sculptors and slam poets and Scrabble champions and on and on and on. So what exactly is the AJC Decatur Book Festival? It’s your chance to explore beyond your boundaries, to get out of your rut.”
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