10 authors you shouldn’t miss at the 2014 Decatur Book Festival

Joyce Carol Oates headlines this year’s event, but don’t overlook these other writers

For more than five decades, Joyce Carol Oates has churned out brilliant, inventive literary fiction at the pace usually associated with romance novels or genre thrillers. Quietly disciplined and deeply enigmatic, Oates brings an unparalleled body of work to discuss as the keynote speaker at the 2014 AJC Decatur Book Festival. But don’t stop with the marquee event. Here are ten other writers you shouldn’t miss.

Photograph by Nick Barose

Karen Abbott
In Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, historian Abbott reveals another fascinating slice of our past, the story of four women: a socialite, a farm girl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were Civil War spies.




Photograph by Deborah Witlaw Llewellyn

Jennifer Hill Booker
The Atlanta chef serves up a mouthwatering blend of culinary and literary art in Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent, a mashup of family favorites and Le Cordon Bleu technique.




Photograph by Tiffany B. Davis

Wiley Cash
Novelist Cash takes readers on a suspenseful Southern Gothic journey to hell and back in This Dark Road to Mercy. Two sisters are kidnapped by their wayward father, and an ex-cop and an ex-con are hot on their trail.




Photograph by Ruthie Earley

Tony Earley
Twenty years after his last story collection was published, Earley returns with Mr. Tall, an assortment of delightfully strange, melancholy tall tales set in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Nashville, and other points South.




Photograph by Mathieu Bourgois

Lev Grossman
Novelist and literary critic Grossman’s latest, The Magician’s Land, neatly resolves a complex fantasy trilogy that began with 2009’s The Magicians.




Photograph by Catherine Sebastian

Ann Hood
The protagonist of Hood’s novel An Italian Wife is forced into an arranged marriage in turn-of-the-century Italy then sent to America, where she delivers seven children, including a love child whom she is forced to give up.




Photograph by Arsenio Coroa

Daniel J. Levitin
Neuroscientist Levitin walks readers through complex concepts with a thoroughly engaging, accessible voice in The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.




Photograph by Ted Rall

Ted Rall
After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan is a mesmerizing account of America’s longest war. Graphic journalist Rall tells it using incendiary words and images.




Photograph by Athena Scalzi

John Scalzi
Lock In, Scalzi’s new novel, is set in the future, when a virus leaves about 1 percent of the world’s population “locked in”—fully awake but unable to move.




Photograph by Connie Alvarez

Jeff VanderMeer
VanderMeer’s trilogy, Southern Reach, has been published rapid-fire, with Annihilation debuting in February, Authority in May, and Acceptance next month. The series chronicles expeditions into mysterious Area X.




This article originally appeared in our August 2014 issue.