Book Notes: Karin Slaughter, Frances Mayes publish new books

Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta gears up for its annual book festival.

This week Book Notes gives shoutouts to two renowned Georgia authors who share a publication day for two very different books, and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) announces its pre-festival series of author events.

Happy pub day: Karin Slaughter’s latest thriller hits the streets Tuesday, Aug. 23. “Girl, Forgotten” (HarperCollins, $28.99) is a sequel to her New York Times bestseller “Pieces of Her,” which became a wildly popular limited series starring Toni Collette on Netflix this year. Andrea Oliver is now all grown up and embarking on her first assignment as a freshly minted U.S. Marshal. Sent to Longbill Beach to protect a judge receiving death threats, Andrea’s real focus is on solving the 40-year-old murder of teenager Emily Vaughn, who died on the night of her high school prom.

This is a banner year for Slaughter. It was announced earlier this month that ABC has picked up the pilot for the “Will Trent” series based on one of Slaughter’s most beloved recurring characters, Will Trent, the former foster kid with dyslexia who’s now a GBI special agent with the highest level of security clearance. Ramón Rodriquez from “The Wire” will star. No word yet if Sara Linton, the character from Slaughter’s “Grant County” series who later joined the Will Trent series, will appear. The show is slated for a mid-season launch.

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa

Can’t go home again: Aug. 23 is also publication day for Frances Mayes’ “A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home” (Crown Publishing, $27). A native of Fitzgerald, Mayes is the author of the 1997 bestselling book “Under the Tuscan Sun,” which was made into a film with Diane Lane. Her new book is a collection of essays about the various homes she’s lived in, from one side of the country to the other and in Italy, where she still has that Tuscan home.

In “The House on South Lee Street,” Mayes waxes nostalgic about her family’s home place in Fitzgerald after her sister calls to tell her it’s on the market. She recalls with fondness the home’s wrap-around porch, six fireplaces and “graceful curving staircase.”

The sister admits that it’s “the last house in the United States I’d want to buy,” because although the exterior has been restored to perfection, there once had been a devastating fire and the interior remained untouched. “The baby grand, charred, leaned under the sagging staircase; the walls were black, and the furniture sticks of glassy ash.”

The house eventually sells and is restored. Nevertheless, “the owners perhaps will not know everything of its burned history,” Mayes writes, “but the disappearing ink of the past always will become visible.”

Credit: File

Credit: File

Pre-game event: As the folks at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta prepare to announce the lineup for the annual book festival in November, they’ve given us a taste of the caliber of authors we can expect by announcing its pre-festival lineup.

The series kicks off Sept. 15 with Iuliia Mendel, the Ukrainian journalist who was the press secretary for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Her book, “The Fight of Our Lives,” chronicles Zelenskyy’s rise from comedian to president of Ukraine. She will be in conversation with Bill Nigut, executive producer of “Political Rewind” for GPB.

On Sept. 21, New York Times food writer and author of “Dinner in French” Melissa Clark will talk about one-pot/one-pan dinners with Ligaya Figueras, food editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Next up on Oct. 12 are cowriters Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan talking about their novel “Mad Honey.” It’s about a mother trying to determine if the suspicions surrounding her teenage son’s role in the death of his girlfriend are founded.

The last event is Oct. 26 with Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, discussing his new novel “Swann’s War,” about a series of murders in a small New England fishing village during World War II and the woman trying to solve them.

For details and to purchase tickets, go to

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contact her a, and follow her on Twitter at @svanatten.