Insiders Guide: 25th Book Festival of the MJCCA

Insiders Guide: 25th Book Festival of the MJCCA

Tickets for the 25th edition of the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center are available by visiting or by calling the JCC box office, which opens onsite one hour before each event, at 678-812-4005.

This year’s festival offers 30 sessions with a total of 39 authors. Buying an individual ticket for each event would cost $399 for a JCC member and $543 for a nonmember. A series pass, good for admission to everything, is $120 for members and $145 for others.

All programs are at the Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Ticket prices do not include a $1.25 service fee.


8:15 p.m. — Pop music star Kenny Loggins plays a few tunes and talks with local media personality Mara Davis about “Footloose,” his children’s book based on his 1980s hit. The book, illustrated by Tim Bowers, shows what happens at a zoo after the people go home and the zookeeper lets the animals out to dance. Tickets, including a copy of the book, are $28 for members and $33 for nonmembers. A $75 premier ticket includes priority seating and a VIP book-signing line.


NoonRobert Wittman, retired from the FBI after a legendary career recovering stolen art and other treasures, and local author and sportswriter Brian Curtis are in conversation with Boston Globe book reviewer Kate Tuttle, the director of the Decatur Writers Studio. Wittman talks about “The Devil’s Diary,” the story of high-ranking Nazi Alfred Rosenberg, Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Kempner, and the long-lost Rosenberg diary that tied them and Wittman together across more than half a century. Curtis presents “Fields of Battle,” which tells the story of the 1942 Rose Bowl, played in Durham, N.C., and the men who moved from the football field to World War II’s battlefields. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

7:30 p.m. — In the Esther Levine Community Read, Yael Dayan, daughter of Moshe Dayan and a former Knesset member and political activist, talks with CNN producer Nadia Bilchik about her memoir, “Transitions,” which Dayan says tells only the truth, but not the whole truth, about her life in Israel’s public eye. Tickets: $13 members; $18 others.


Noon — A program of Georgia novelists presents Zoe Fishman and Jonathan Rabb in conversation with best-selling author Lisa Baron Stone. Fishman’s offering is “Inheriting Edith,” in which a struggling New York housekeeper inherits a Sag Harbor mansion when a former employer kills herself. But the house comes with the dead woman’s 82-year-old mother, Edith, who has Alzheimer’s. Rabb’s novel is “Among the Living,” which tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who is taken in by distant relatives in Savannah and finds himself caught in the middle of multiple local struggles: between Jewish congregations, between blacks and whites, and between a shoe store owner and organized crime. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

7:30 p.m. — Authors Howard Blum and Uri Bar-Joseph share real-life spy thrills with former CNN executive Gail Evans. Blum’s “The Last Goodnight” tells the story of Betty Pack, who gave up a comfortable upper-class Midwestern life, love and family to give her body and soul for the Allied cause in Europe. Bar-Joseph’s “The Angel” reveals how an Egyptian close to Nasser and Sadat, Ashraf Marwan, provided the information that saved Israel in 1973. Tickets: $13 members; $18 others. (Our review of “The Last Goodnight”)


12:30 p.m. — Biblical scholar Joel Hoffman presents his book about misunderstandings and mistranslations of Scripture, “The Bible Doesn’t Say That.” Tickets: $10 members; $15 nonmembers.


12:30 p.m. — Novelists Alyson Richman and B.A. Shapiro explore the artistic cost of the Nazi sweep across Western Europe in a conversation with WMLB-AM 1690 host John Lemley. In Richman’s “The Velvet Hours,” a young Parisian woman talks with her grandmother about her treasure-filled apartment and the life stories behind the objects before fleeing the German occupation. Shapiro’s “The Muralist” also focuses on a young Frenchwoman, an artist who is living in New York and helping Rothko, Pollock and Krasner develop abstract expressionism while her relatives are trapped on the other side of the Atlantic. Tickets: $10 members; $15 nonmembers. (Check out our review of “The Muralist)

7:30 p.m. — Literary star Jonathan Safran Foer talks with former Atlanta Journal-Constitution book columnist Greg Changnon about his third novel, “Here I Am,” which covers disasters domestic (a Jewish couple facing divorce over the husband’s affair) and global (an earthquake-sparked war that could be Israel’s doom). Tickets: $13 members; $18 others.


10:30 a.m. — Real-life women’s stories are the focus as authors Frieda Birnbaum and Marlene Trestman talk with lawyer Esther Panitch. In “Life Begins at 60,” psychotherapist Birnbaum talks about setting a record by giving birth to twin boys through artificial insemination at age 60. Trestman’s “Fair Labor Lawyer” recounts Bessie Margolin’s rise from New Orleans orphan to trailblazing lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court. Free to all.

12:30 p.m.Adam Levin and WSB-TV Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant talk about Levin’s “Swiped,” which covers the spreading problem of identity theft and what to do if it happens to you. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

7:30 p.m. — CNN veteran Peter Bergen talks about the problem of homegrown terrorism as covered in his latest book, “United States of Jihad,” during a conversation with Georgia Public Broadcasting newsman Bill Nigut. Tickets: $18 members; $24 others.


Noon — Fiction and history mix in a conversation exploring women’s rights with literary critic Anjeli Enjeti. Ellen Feldman’s “Terrible Virtue” presents a novel based on the true story of Margaret Sanger, who founder Planned Parenthood 100 years ago. Jennifer S. Brown’s debut novel, “Modern Girls,” shows a mother and her adult daughter trying to establish their places in the world while dealing with unplanned pregnancies in 1935. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.


8 p.m. — Semiretired Hollywood agent Shep Gordon, whose clients have ranged from Alice Cooper to Groucho Marx, discusses his autobiography, “They Call Me Supermensch,” with True Colors Theatre founder and artistic director Kenny Leon. The book program follows a screening of the documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” at 6:30. Tickets (including film): $18 members; $24 nonmembers. Film-only tickets: $5.


11:30 a.m. — Chicago’s retired “Breakfast Queen,” Ina Pinkney, presents her cookbook/memoir, “Ina’s Kitchen,” in a conversation with Souper Jenny owner Jenny Levison. The program follows a screening of “Breakfast at Ina’s,” which audience members chose as the best documentary at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Tickets (including film): $18 members; $24 nonmembers. Film-only tickets: $5.

Living With a SEAL By Jesse Itzler Center Street, 272 pages, $26
Living With a SEAL
By Jesse Itzler
Center Street, 272 pages, $26

3 p.m. — Entrepreneur and Atlanta resident Jesse Itzler, whose career has ranged from rap music to private jets to minority ownership in the Atlanta Hawks, talks with media personality Conn Jackson about “Living With a SEAL,” in which Itzler tells of the intense winter month six years ago when he brought a Navy SEAL into his home, trained with him at all hours of the day and night, and changed his outlook on life. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others. (Read our review of “Living With a SEAL”)

7:30 p.m.Daniel Gordis takes time away from his duties as an administrator and teacher at Israel’s first liberal arts college, Shalem College in Jerusalem, to talk with Emory’s Ken Stein about his latest nonfiction book, “Israel: A Concise History,” which spends less time on wars and more on the intellectual and cultural underpinnings of Zionism. Tickets: $18 members; $24 others. (Our review of “Israel: A Concise History”)


NoonVictoria Kelly and Thelma Adams talk about their novels based on real women with consultant and former radio host Gail Cohn. Kelly’s “Mrs. Houdini: A Novel” depicts Harry Houdini’s widow, Bess, in her search for a message he is sending her from beyond the grave. Adams’ “Last Woman Standing: A Novel” shows us Josephine Marcus, a daughter of Jewish immigrants, as she leaves San Francisco for Tombstone, Ariz., and finds herself as a source of conflict between lawmen Johnny Behan and Wyatt Earp. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

7:30 p.m.Alice Hoffman and her latest novel, “Faithful,” are the focus of Book Club Night through a conversation with 11Alive anchor Melissa Long. The story focuses on a young New York woman who feels that she has lost her soul after surviving a wintry car accident during her senior year in high school that has left her best friend in a permanent but possibly miracle-granting coma. Tickets: $13 members; $18 others.


12:30 p.m. — Gynecologist Mache Seibel explains “The Estrogen Window,” which argues that there’s a time for each woman when hormone replacement therapy is safe and effective, in a conversation with OB/GYN Mimi Zieman of Femasys. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others. (Read our review of “The Estrogen Window”)

7:30 p.m.Carson Kressley, who gained fame as one of the “queer eyes” offering fashion advice to straight guys, turns his attention to women and what they wear in “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big?” CNN’s Holly Firfer helps him talk about the book. Tickets: $18 members; $24 others.


Noon — It’s lunchtime at the festival with kosher hot dogs, followed at 12:30 by authors Lloyd Handwerker and Ina Yalof discussing different aspects of New York food with WSB radio host Belinda Skelton. Handwerker talks about his grandfather, Nathan Handwerker, the Jewish immigrant who founded the Nathan’s hot dog empire at Coney Island, in “Famous Nathan.” Yalof takes a broader, deeper dive into New York’s food scene and history in “Food and the City,” including lox at Zabar’s with Woody Allen and the city’s Jewish expert on Chinese food. Tickets (including lunch): $24 members; $28 others.

7:30 p.m. — Israeli storyteller Meir Shalev discusses his novel “Two She-Bears,” which spans three generations, two murders, love, loss, betrayal, revenge and redemption in a story that begins in the early days of British Mandatory Palestine. Tickets: Members $10; others $15.


10:30 a.m. — East Cobb resident Jeffrey Selman, who launched a successful court fight against the county Board of Education’s 2002 decision to put stickers dismissing evolution as just a theory in the front of biology textbooks, recalls the case as described in his book, “G-d Sent Me,” during a conversation with AJT Editor Michael Jacobs. Free to all.

12:30 p.m.Liane Kupferberg Carter shares the story of her son Mickey, who has autism, in “Ketchup Is My Favorite Vegetable” and in a conversation with Janel Margaretta, the Marcus JCC’s chief development and marketing officer. Carter explains the fears, frustrations, guilt and joy of life with Mickey. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

7:30 p.m. — It’s time to giggle in a comedy-focused program with Punchline Comedy Club owner Jamie Bendall and two authors, William Novak (“Die Laughing: Killer Jokes for Newly Old Folks”) and Michael Krasny (“Let There Be Laughter”). Both books should arm you to laugh at yourself and the world around you. Tickets: $13 members; $18 others.


Noon — Writer Christopher Noxon has some famous TV connections. His wife, Jenji Kohan, is the creator of “Weeds” and “Orange Is the New Black”; his sister, Marti Noxon, was one of the creative forces behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and served as showrunner the final two seasons. So his novel, “Plus One,” about a husband who becomes a stay-at-home dad while his wife thrives in Hollywood, has elements of real life without being autobiographical. But Noxon plans to talk about his next book, which might be even more interesting: “Prick” will tell his story of conversion to the Judaism of his wife and children. Tickets: $10 members; others $15. (Our review of “Plus One”)

Jeffrey Toobin will appear in conversation with 11Alive anchor Vinnie Politan at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.
Jeffrey Toobin will appear in conversation with 11Alive anchor Vinnie Politan at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.


8 p.m.Jeffrey Toobin has made a name as a legal analyst on CNN, in the pages of The New Yorker and in books about cases such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Now he’s delving into what he found to be the crazy, dangerous 1970s with the saga of rich girl-turned-bank-robbing revolutionary Patty Hearst in “American Heiress.” Vinnie Politan, an 11Alive anchor, discusses the book with Toobin. Tickets: $18 members; $24 others. (Read our chat with Toobin and review of his book)


Noon — CNBC producer Jason Gewirtz, who has reported from Israel on business and war, combines those interests with “Israel’s Edge,” a brief history of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Talpiot unit, whose purpose is to produce the innovations that keep the IDF ahead of its enemies and which, as a side effect, has helped turn Israel into the Start-Up Nation. Gewirtz appears in conversation with GILEE’s founding director, Robbie Friedmann. Tickets: $10 members; $15 others.

3:30 p.m. — The refugee experience is in the spotlight when Harriet Levin Millan talks about her new novel, “How Fast Can You Run,” based on the life of Sudanese “Lost Boy” Michael Majok Kuch, who was driven from his village in South Sudan at age 5, fled to a refugee camp in Kenya and received asylum in the United States. Millan discusses the book and reality behind it with Kuch and with Derreck Kayongo, the CEO of a new festival partner, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, who is himself a former refugee. Free to all.

7:30 p.m.Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen closes the festival in conversation with a fellow Bravo star, Phaedra Parks of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” about his latest book, “Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries.” It promises to be juicier than the first foray into those diaries (the publisher wanted us to sign a nondisclosure agreement just to get a review copy). Cohen’s appearance also is this year’s Eva & George Stern Lecture. Tickets: $28 members; $33 others. As with opening night, a $75 premier ticket brings the VIP treatment.

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