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PEN America at the 2019 AJC-Decatur Book Festival

2019 AJC Decatur Book Festival ImageIn partnership with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, PEN America is proud to co-present The Emory/PEN America-Decatur Book Festival Immigration Track as well as the Festival’s Keynote in relation to the timely topic of immigration. As an organization working at the intersection of human rights and literature, PEN America believes in the transformative power of the written word. We are proud to present curated conversations for this year’s festival edition that are not only timely for our public consciousness but that shines a spotlight on an urgent human rights issue of our time. 

We will kick-off the festival by co-presenting the DBF-PEN America keynote panel discussion, an immersive dialogue that will discuss themes such as Latinx writing, free expression, and immigration. This will be followed by a series of author sessions and literary conversations throughout the duration of the festival. Confirmed presenters include Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Lima::Limon; Tope Folarin, A Particular Kind of Black Man; Devi Laskar, The Atlas of Reds and Blues; Nicole Dennis-Benn, Patsy; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Jennine Capó Crucet, My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education; Aaron Bobrow-Strain, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez; Karl Marlantes, Deep River; Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Fruit of a Drunken Tree, and Suketu Mehta, This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, presented by Emory University, continues its tradition of hosting extraordinary literary conversations for intellectually curious attendees of all ages. This year’s festival features a lineup of more than 250 authors, poets, historians, scientists, journalists, and chefs who will celebrate books and community.

Stay tuned for more event details! Learn how to attend the festival here

Decatur Book Festival X PEN America Keynote Image

Keynote – Effecting Change in a Changing World: Latinx Writers on Immigration
08/30/2019, 8:00PM
The Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
1700 N Decatur Rd, Atlanta, GA 30307

Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Mariela Romero will moderate a timely discussion centered on the nuanced and multi-layered immigrant experience here in the United States. Incorporating topics such as the power of Latinx literature, free expression, and notions of home and identity, Romero will be joined in conversation by Richard Blanco, the fifth person in U.S. history selected to write and deliver an inaugural poem and whose collection of poems, How to Love a Country, was recently released; Rigoberto González, award-winning poet and author of the memoir What Drowns Flowers in Your Mouth; and Gabriela Ventura Baeza, executive editor of Arte Publico Press, the oldest publisher of contemporary and recovered Latinx writing in the United States.

AJC Decatur Festival 2019 Poetry Reading Richard Blanco And Natalie Scenters Zapico Image

Poetry Reading: Richard Blanco and Natalie Scenters-Zapico
08/31/2019, 12:30PM
Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary
205 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA 30030

Richard Blanco’s How to Love a Country is a new collection from the renowned inaugural poet exploring immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues, and more, in accessible and emotive verses. In her striking second collection, Lima::Limon, Natalie Scenters-Zapico sets her unflinching gaze once again on the borders of things. Join these two poets as they read from their new works.

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 Poetry Reading Rigoberto González and Kate Daniels

Poetry Reading: Rigoberto González and Kate Daniels
08/31/2019, 1:45PM
Historic DeKalb Courthouse
101 E Court Square, Decatur, GA 30030

In his fifth full-length collection (after Unpeopled Eden), American Book Award winner Rigoberto González binds narratives of loss and rebellion with the notion that “a soaring spirit held captive/ becomes reactive.” Meanwhile, award-winning poet Kate Daniels recently released her sixth full-length poetry collection (In the Months of My Son’s Recovery). Join us at this poetry reading to hear both poets read selections from their most memorable works. 

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 Searching For Community And Home Amid Displacement

Searching for Community and Home Amid Displacement
08/31/2019, 1:45PM
First Baptist Decatur Carreker Hall
308 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

Debut novelists Devi Laskar and Tope Folarin explore the theme of displacement, and the feeling of being unmoored and isolated, while searching for supportive and accepting communities. In the process, their characters grapple with identity, fraught memories, prejudice, as they learn how to redefine what it means to be and feel at home.

AJC-Decatur 2019 Festival: The Death And Life Of Aida Hernandez

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez
08/31/2019, 4:15PM
Marriot Conference Center A
130 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA

What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. immigration system? When Aida Hernandez was born in 1987 in Agua Prieta, Mexico, the nearby U.S. border was little more than a worn-down fence. Eight years later, Aida’s mother took her and her siblings to live in Douglas, Arizona. By then, the border had become one of the most heavily policed sites in America. Undocumented, Aida fought to make her way. She learned English, watched Friends, and, after having a baby at sixteen, dreamed of teaching dance and moving with her son to New York City. But life had other plans. Following a misstep that led to her deportation, Aida found herself in a Mexican city marked by violence, in a country that was not hers. To get back to the United States and reunite with her son, she embarked on a harrowing journey. Taking us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. With emotional force and narrative suspense, Bobrow-Strain brings us into the heart of a violently unequal America. He shows us that the heroes of our current immigration wars are less likely to be paragons of virtue than flawed human beings who deserve justice and empathy all the same.

AJC-Decatur 2019 Festival: Literary Adventure And The American West

Literary Adventure and the American West
08/31/2019, 4:15PM
First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary
308 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

Two renowned novelists discuss their latest works, historical tales set in the early 20th Century. Orphan children escaping on the Mississippi River and European immigrants in the Pacific Northwest search for new homes against the backdrops of the Great Depression, labor unionism, and a constantly changing America.

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 Sacrifice In The Name Of Love

Sacrifice in the Name of Love
09/01/2019, 12:00PM
Marriot Conference Center B
130 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA

In his novel, On This Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong writes about people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy is a prismatic depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the lasting threads of love stretching across years and oceans. Both novels follow characters who struggling to find their place, and the sacrifices they make in the name of love.

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 After The Fall Stories Amid The Echoes Of Collapse

After the Fall: Stories Amid the Echoes of Collapse
09/01/2019, 2:30PM
First Baptist Decatur Carreker Hall
308 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

Respectively set in Bogota, Colombia and on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia during and soon after immense change in the civil order, the characters in Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ and Julia Phillips’ debut novels contend with the shock and aftershocks of societal disruption – affording the reader perspective about the strength of the girls and women in their stories who struggle to forge authentic lives despite the fragility of the failing systems they can no longer take for granted. Join us in conversation with both authors as they reflect on storytelling that comes after disruption and collapse. 

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 Writing Identity In A Fractured World

Writing Identity in a Fractured World
09/01/2019, 2:30PM
Marriot Conference Center C
130 Clairemont Ave, Decatur, GA

Join us in conversation with award-winning authors Jennine Capo Crucet and Mira Jacob as they talk about their innovative and urgent approaches to writing about race, identity, and culture.

AJC-Decatur Festival 2019 What We Gain When We Welcome

What We Gain When We Welcome
09/01/2019, 5:00PM
Historic DeKalb Courthouse
101 E Court Square, Decatur, GA 30030

There are few subjects in American life that prompt more discussion and controversy than immigration. In his new memoir, My Parents: An Introduction; This Does Not Belong To You, Aleksandar Hemon examines the personal story of his family’s immigration from Sarajevo. It is a story of many Hemons—his parents, sister, uncles, and cousins—and also of German occupying forces, Yugoslav partisans, royalist Serb collaborators, and a few befuddled Canadians. In This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto, the renowned author Suketu Mehta attacks the issue of immigration pragmatically. Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. Join us in this timely discussion.