From one little nugget of history – that Alaska was considered for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Promised Land" for the Jews post-World War II – springs this bizarro world of a mystery novel in which the fate of a people hangs in the balance. Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize winner for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2001), has won heaps of praise for this recently released novel. Gushed the New York Times: "... Mr. Chabon has so thoroughly conjured the fictional world of Sitka – its history, culture, geography, its incestuous and byzantine political and sectarian divisions – that the reader comes to take its existence for granted." Thurs., May 24, 7 p.m. Barnes and Noble, 2900 Peachtree Road, Suite 310. 404-261-7747.
Stunning debut or incredibly expansive exercise in cleverness? You be the judge, but no matter how you slice it, Marisha Pessl turned more than a few heads last summer with her first effort, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It's a novel with a novel setup, its 36 chapters structured in the form of a college-lit syllabus (with novels for names), as a smarter-than-thou teenage girl road-trips through college towns with her scholar father following her mother's death. There's a little bit of Lolita in there, critics noted, but from there opinions diverge; but there's no doubt Pessl has become an author to watch. (Her debut was released in paperback this spring.) Tues., May 29, 7:15 p.m. Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St. 404-370-3070. www.georgiacenterforthebook.org.
Is there any local full-time author funnier than Pushcart Prize winner Jack Pendarvis? It's hard to say, but the man who penned The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure is back with a vengeance with the follow-up collection of short stories, Your Body Is Changing. In his previous work Pendarvis pulled off the tricky task of assuming the identity of a horrible writer, and the result was quite good. His latest features a whole mess of messed-up characters who seem to be teetering on the brink. June 2, 7 p.m. A Cappella Books. 484-C Moreland Ave. 404-681-5128. www.acappellabooks.com.
If there were ever confusion as to how Great Britain navigated the delicate transition from a defeatist prime minister (Neville Chamberlain) to one prepared to battle fascism (Winston Churchill), Lynne Olson (Freedom's Daughters) clears the air with her historical work Troublesome Young Men. Olson traces how the intricate maneuverings among the younger generation of Parliament's Tories challenged the powerful Conservative Party for a history lesson in how to confront conventional political wisdom. June 5, 7 p.m. Jimmy Carter Library, Carter Museum Theater, 441 Freedom Parkway. 404/865-7100. www.jimmycarterlibrary.org.
She isn't the first true-crime writer to examine the sensational 2004 death of Atlantan Jennifer Corbin and the trial of her dentist husband, Bart, but Ann Rule nevertheless comes charging forth with Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal. (John Glatt's even more sensationally titled The Doctor's Wife: A True Story of Marriage, Deception and Two Gruesome Murders got there first.) June 7. Barnes & Noble, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford. 678-482-4150.
Marita Golden has written more than half a dozen books (nonfiction and fiction) on race. She discusses racial dialogue from a new perspective in her newest novel, After, which tells the story of a black police officer who kills an innocent young black man after falsely believing the man was reaching for a gun. Police officer Carson Blake and his family must now face the aftermath of this accidental death. Through After, Golden offers insight into a troubling racial dynamic and opens the door for dialogue on the themes of racial tension, guilt and redemption. Thurs., June 28. Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St. 404-370-3070. www.georgiacenterforthebook.org.
The man who started writing at the age of 60 (back in 1984) is still going strong. Native Georgian Ferrol Sams, who won the Townsend Prize for Fiction for When All the World Was Young (1992), returns in July with Down Town, set once again in the South with a sweeping historical perspective. Deeply imbued in the folklore traditions of the South, Sams' works are equally known for their wit and insight. (Note: He's also confirmed for this year's AJC Decatur Book Festival, but this is a great opportunity to check out his work hot off the press.) $12 general admission, $5 Margaret Mitchell House members (prepayment required). July 11, 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. lecture. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road. 770-578-3502. www.gwtw.org.
From the same ethos that spawned "The Daily Show," News of the Weird and the Blotter (the latter two of which can be found in these very pages of CL) comes Drew Curtis' wildly popular media website, www.fark.com, which provides links to the wackier (and sometimes poorly reported) news of the day. And in light of recent news of cutbacks in newsroom reporting budgets (print or broadcast), Curtis' new book It's Not News, It's Fark is as prescient as his first book (It's Not News) in showing how mainstream media lose sense of themselves. Sponsored by A Cappella Books. July 14. Manuel's Tavern, 602 N. Highland Ave. 404-681-5128. www.acappellabooks.com.
Atlanta's own Karen Abbott dives head-first into a delicious story about prostitution, religion, corruption and politics (sound redundant?) with her historical nonfiction work Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America's Soul. Abbott chronicles the rise and demise of one of Chicago's poshest brothels at the turn of the 20th century. July 25, 7 p.m. A Cappella Books. 484-C Moreland Ave. 404-681-5128. www.acappellabooks.com.
STEPHEN L. CARTER
Carter builds on his critically acclaimed debut novel, 2002's The Emperor of Ocean Park, with New England White in picking at the tender seams of upper-crust African-Americans. Carter's mystery centers on a murder that shakes the foundations of the marriage between a black university professor and his wife (another higher-up) at an all-white university. (The book's release date is June 26.) Carter's writing seems to scrutinize how ideals play out in real life, which makes this a much-anticipated sophomore effort. July 27, 7 p.m. Jimmy Carter Library, Cecil B. Day Chapel, 441 Freedom Parkway. 404-865-7100. www.jimmycarterlibrary.org.
Hear Casey McIntyre's podcast interview with Marita Golden, who will also read from After.