Lights, Camera, Books: Bangalore Literature Festival is back to delight bookworms in the city

ByFathima Ashraf

Published Nov 24, 2023 | 12:00 PMUpdated Nov 24, 2023 | 2:03 PM

Lights, Camera, Books: Bangalore Literature Festival is back to delight bookworms in the city

The Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF), since its inception, has hosted 10 successful editions, drawing over 1500 authors from across the world. The 12th edition of the much-anticipated festival will take place at The Lalit Ashok from 2-3 December, 2023. 

The festival this time will feature around 250 authors, including renowned names such as Abraham Verghese, Chandrashekhara Kambara, Ramachandra Guha, and Perumal Murugan. 

“Dr Abraham Verghese is giving the keynote address this time. Last year, we had Pico Iyer and people from all over the south came to listen. This time, as Dr Verghese speaks about medical writing and his book, we expect the same reception,” says author Shinie Antony, festival director of BLF.

Also Read: World Heritage Week 2023: Why prioritising ethical practices in heritage discourse plays a huge role

Reading is a calling in Bengaluru

A festival is as good or as bad as its people. Antony attributes the success of all previous editions of BLF to the people.

Shinie Antony (Supplied)

Shinie Antony (Supplied)

“I feel a festival is beyond its speakers and organizers. It’s an explosion of art, culture and literature. Nothing else matters there. I may sound prejudiced but I feel that in no other place can a festival bloom so flamboyantly except in Bengaluru,” she adds.

In this city, people are spiritually inclined towards literature, she adds.

“People in Bengaluru are so well-read. It’s not because they want their bookshelf to look good or appear literate. Reading is a true calling in the city,” shares Antony. 

Also Read: Did you know these UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in South India?

Getting bigger every time

As soon as an edition ends, the planning for the next one starts. It’s a 365-day process, Antony tells South First.

“This is an NGO and all of us do many other things but still, we prioritise this. It takes so much out of you. But the day of the festival, just before the first session, you feel the air is so charged. People say books have a smell. I think festivals have a scent too. And Bangalore Literature Festival specifically has an explicable, mystical quality that just sets it apart,” she shares.

A still from BLF 2022. (Supplied)

A still from BLF 2022. (Supplied)

BLF looks beyond commercial success and celebrity status of writers.

Antony further adds, “One thing that makes us unique is that we have a lot of first time writers and writers who are not considered as “well known” but they are there on their own merit. We just look at writers as writers.” 

No two festivals are the same. That said, there is no conscious effort to make each edition different from the previous ones.

“The festival gets bigger on its own. It’s so dependent on the authors who come up with new books. For instance, this year, we have young writers like Sohini Chattopadhyay, Radhika Iyenkar, Devika Rege, Tejaswini Apte-Rahm and so many young first time writers who have come up with momentous books. That has not happened in any other year,” she details. 

Themes aplenty

The topics discussed this time include crime, feminism, speculative fiction, AI, mythology and more.

“This time, we have a lot of food writers including Krish Ashok, Sadaf Hussain and many others who write and speak differently. There are books on technology, on start-ups, books on emotions as well as physical conditions. It’s basically like one composite human body. Every organ is addressed in some form or the other,” shares Antony.

Besides talks and panels, there are several awards including the New India Foundation awards, the Deodar Short Story Prize, and Atta Galatta BLF Prize. 

“These prizes are very varied and they honor and recognize good writing. It’s important that there is encouragement in the arts. It’s a unique feature of BLF to have so many prizes,” she adds.

As part of BLF, there is also a Children’s Lit Festival happening across three venues, each categorized according to ages 4+, 8+ and 12+.

“The kids’ section is fabulous, it’s a metaphorical playground. We have all kinds of writers from Sudha Murty, Roopa Pai to Anand Neelakantan and many others,” Antony notes.

There will also be cultural events including a Carnatic recital by Aishwarya Vidhya Raghunath, Hindustani recital by Radhika Joshi, a musical performance by Kavish Seth and Yakshagana Tala-Maddale by Jabbar Samo and Avinash Shetty with Arjun Kordel (Bhagavatha) and Pruthvi Badekkila (Maddale).

Additionally, the festival will feature ScreenLit, a forum for aspiring screenwriters; and LitMart, a platform where aspiring authors can pitch their book ideas to literary agents, commissioning editors, and publishers.

Also Read: Gallery: Comics, superheroes, fun and laughter reign supreme at Bengaluru Comic Con 2023

On 2 & 3 December at The Lalit Ashok

Register online. Get the complete schedule here.