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Bangalore Literature Festival returns with a starry lineup

Booker winners Shehan Karunatilaka and Geetanjali Shree will be in attendance, even as the BLF 2022 pilots ScreenLit, a new platform for screenwriters

After two years of a subdued, low-key event, this year’s speaker list indicates a big literary spectacle. (Bangalore Literature Festival website)

By Vangmayi Parakala

LAST PUBLISHED 01.12.2022  |  07:00 AM IST

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The Bangalore Literature Festival’s 11th edition will take place this weekend, over 3 and 4 December 2022. The event, with a lineup of over 280 Indian and International authors, publishers, and other speakers, is to take place at Lalit Ashok Hotel in Bengaluru.

After two years of a subdued, low-key event, this year’s speaker list indicates a big literary spectacle: other than big authors like William Dalrymple, Pico Iyer, Ambai, Shobhaa De, Tabish Khair, Jerry Pinto, and Hindol Sengupta, publishers Karthika VK, Rahul Soni, and David Davidar, the Bangalore Literature Festival will also have in attendance the two biggest literary stars of the year, Booker and International Booker winner, Shehan Krunatilaka and Geetanjali Shree, respectively.

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“It is a truly goosebump (-inducing) year because of Geetanjali and Shehan," says Shinie Antony, director of the Bangalore Literature Festival. The flames of the win are licking the entire region, with translations the rockstars of writing right now. Borders are made porous only by the beauty of such works, and international appreciation is the start of a multilingual conversation," she added.

Some of the literary panels will be performance-oriented, too. One such piece will take off from poet Mani Rao’s translation of the Saundarya Lahari from Sanskrit to English which was published by HarperCollins India this year. There will also be performances by Sholeh Wolpe, an Iranian-American poet, as well as Mir Mukhtiyar Ali, a folk singer from Bikaner.

Actor Farhan Akhtar and Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri are some of the stars in attendance. The latter will be on a panel on Neel Shah and Gaurav Gala’s book Awakening the Blue Tigers: India’s Quest for Football’s Holy Grail. The panel promises to be especially relevant considering the current FIFA World Cup that’s underway in Qatar.

Also Read: The startling originality of Shehan Karunatilaka

Some of the stars of narrative non-fiction from the recent years, especially Shrayana Bhattacharya, Manu Pillai, and Akshaya Mukul, will be on various panels at the Bangalore Literature Festival. “(In) nonfiction…(topics like) sports, biographies, the state of the Indian publishing industry, memoirs, and female financial literacy have evolved into exquisite detailing. People are interested in data, in trivia, in prognostic utterings – they want the world they live in decoded every inch," Antony notes with regard to how Indian nonfiction, though commercially always successful, has started coming into its own now. “The journalism panel with Barkha Dutt, P Sainath and Sashi Kumar, for instance, steps into a different facet of media," she adds.

The festival has special programming for young littérateurs, too. Called C|L|F or Children, Literature, Fun, this has two sections — “one for storytelling and the other for interactive events, and the stages are divided across the ages," says Antony. “The youngest participant is history buff Zac Sangeeth," she adds, referring to the 10-year-old author of World History in 3 Points, published by Hachette India.

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Also Read: We should celebrate multilingualism: Geetanjali Shree

Back in 2014, with the aim to connect various aspiring writers to the publishing world in a more concrete manner, the Bangalore Literature Festival had introduced LitMart, a platform for first-time authors pitch their manuscripts to a jury of editors and publishers. In a similar vein, the festival will this year pilot ScreenLit, a forum for screenplay writers to pitch to filmmakers.

The festival is free for all upon registration. 

Bangalore Literature Festival, 3 & 4 December, 2022, Bengaluru. For further details: Bangaloreliteraturefestival.org