Typewriters, music, teen tent, children’s stage, guerilla haiku, sunny skies, throngs of people (80,000 I heard), authors from every genre, and the occasional raptor overhead. It was a fine weekend for the Decatur Book Festival, celebrating its tenth year. It was great to sit down with Anna Badkhen, author of Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah, in a conversation led by writer Anjali Enjeti in the plush red-carpeted Decatur First United Methodist Chapel. We discussed being an outsider, the uniquely American phenomenon of climate change denial, how much we trust digital equipment, whether to step into our stories (or, rather, admit to doing so), and, of course, vultures.
You should definitely read Anna’s book. It’s like a dream, experiencing her year living with the nomads of Mali through her poetic prose and lovely line drawings. As they lead their cattle to pastures even as the rain refuses to fall. As there are deaths. As the seasons pass. As the Fulani people laugh. As they pensively look skyward.
We got to take a little walk, Anna and I, before the talk, escaping into the green of a nearby cemetery, back to a world at 3 mph. We came across a butterfly, struggling to fly. Anna noticed it, eyes on land. I reached for it, girl on grass.
A delight. Words. A bit of the wild. A gathering of people who love books.