Emory hosts Pat Conroy remembrance for Decatur Book Festival

Emory Report | Aug. 2, 2016

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Southern literary icon Pat Conroy, who died in March of pancreatic cancer, will be remembered by family members, friends and fellow writers during the keynote event for the 2016 Decatur Book Festival. Tickets for the keynote discussion, set for Sept. 2 at Emory's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, become available to the public starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4. Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock. 

The legacy of Southern literary icon Pat Conroy will take center stage as the annual Decatur Book Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 2, at Emory's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Tickets to the festival's keynote event become available to the public at 10 a.m. this Thursday, Aug. 4.

A beloved storyteller who drew on his own life experiences, Conroy was the author of acclaimed memoirs and novels including "The Water is Wide," "The Great Santini," "The Prince of Tides," "Beach Music" and more. He died March 4, 2016, from pancreatic cancer at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina.

An enthusiastic Decatur Book Festival participant, Conroy launched the Pat Conroy Selects track in 2014, highlighting authors he wanted to introduce to his fans and starting a tradition of having a writer select a track for each festival.

“We felt as though he was part of our family, and since Pat was working on a new novel, we were looking forward to the day we might convince him to keynote the festival,” Daren Wang, DBF founding executive director, explained in a press release. “Sadly, we won’t have that opportunity. With that, we thought the thing to do was a celebration of what he meant to us all.”

The Decatur Book Festival's tribute, "The Life and Works of Pat Conroy," will include memories of Conroy and readings from his many novels. The event features several of Conroy's family members and friends:

  • Cassandra King Conroy, his wife and author of five novels, including "Moonrise"
  • Artist and children's author Melissa Conroy, his daughter
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Bragg, whose "All Over But the Shouting" was a New York Times bestseller
  • Novelist Ron Rash, author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist novel "Serena"
  • Journalist and Conroy family friend Bronwen Dickey, author of "Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon"

Tickets for the event are required, free and limited to two per person. Beginning Thursday morning, you can obtain tickets by visiting the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, calling the Arts at Emory Box Office (404-727-5050) or visiting tickets.arts.emory.edu. Phone and online orders include a $4 processing fee.

Tickets typically sell out early for the Decatur Book Festival keynote event. A limited number of tickets will also be available at A Cappella Books, Charis Books & More, Eagle Eye Books, Tall Tales Books and Little Shop of Stories.

Emory authors at Decatur Book Festival

Following Friday’s keynote at Emory, the festival will continue throughout Labor Day weekend with events and author presentations scheduled in downtown Decatur.

Emory is a major sponsor of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, considered the largest community-based independent book festival in the country. The event features lectures and book signings from hundreds of national and local authors, ranging from acclaimed bestsellers to new emerging authors.

Emory faculty, staff and students currently scheduled to offer readings or participate in panel discussions during the festival include the following:

  • Christeene Alcosiba, manager of operations and public programming at Emory's Rose Library, poet, essayist and founder of UnboundATL
  • Carol Anderson, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor and Chair of African American Studies, author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide"
  • Joseph Beck, lecturer, School of Law, author of "My Father And Atticus Finch: A Lawyer’s Fight for Justice in 1930s Alabama"
  • Jericho Brown, associate professor of English and creative writing, author of "The New Testament"
  • Bill Foege, professor emeritus of global health, author of "House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox"
  • Richie Hofmann, Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, author of "Second Empire"
  • Sandy Jap, professor of marketing
, author of "Partnering with the Frenemy: A Framework for Managing Business Relationships, Minimizing Conflict, and Achieving Partnership Success"
  • Hank Klibanoff, James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism and director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory, author of "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening Nation"
  • Emily Leithauser, graduate student in the Department of English, author of "The Borrowed World"
  • Ken Ono, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics, author of "My Search for Ramanujan: How I Learned to Count"
  • Joseph Skibell, professor of English and Creative Writing, author of 
"Six Memos from the Last Millennium: A Novelist Reads the Talmud"
  • James Marshall Smith, adjunct professor of environmental health, author of "Silent Source"
  • Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing, director of creative writing, 19th U.S. Poet Laureate
  • Frans de Waal, director of the Living Links Center at Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology, author of "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?"
  • Brandon Wicks, instructor in the Department of English, author of "American Fallout"
  • Kevin Young, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing, author of "Blue Laws"

View the Emory track, the Emory School of Law track, and the full schedule for the Decatur Book Festival.