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The Jaipur Literature Festival may be thought of as the country’s premier melting pot of all things literary, but over the past seven years, the Bangalore Literature Festival has also steadily grown to create a niche. A community funded affair – Friends of BLF, as these anonymous donors are known – it is an independent literary event that features not just great writers but also stimulating conversations on a range of relevant subjects. Now in its eighth edition, which kicks off this weekend at the Lalit Ashok lawns, the festival will host over 230 international and Indian authors and speakers, children’s venues, a 2,000 sq ft bookstore, interactive installations, performances, discussions on Indian history, climate change, mental health, relationships, and more.

Bangalore Literature festival

There are several leading names that are part of the speaker roster this year. Hugo Award winner and prolific sci-fi writer Ian McDonald; ‘Financial Times’ chief US commentator and columnist Ed Luce; popular young Kenyan writer Wanjiru Koinange; American political scientist and counter-terrorism expert Christine Fair; French-Indian poet, dance producer and curator Karthika Naïr; National Award-winning actor Pankaj Kapur; and former CEO of McKinsey and co-founder of the Indian School of Business, Rajat Gupta are just some of the names that will be there.

Bangalore literature festival

Attendees can also enjoy sessions by renowned mythologist, writer, and columnist Devdutt Pattanaik; acclaimed author, poet, and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Jerry Pinto; and author, actress, and TV host Lisa Ray. There is also a focus on Indian languages with writers such as HS Shivaprakash, Prathibha Nandakumar, Mridula Garg, Paramita Satpathy, Unni R, and Johny Miranda.

Bangalore Literature festival

With so much going on, what should you take time out to see? We’ve cherry-picked all that shouldn’t be missed at the BLF this year.

  1. With the environment on everyone’s mind, the discussion ‘Blue About Green – Beyond  Climate Change’ with journalist Chitrangada Choudhury, ecologists Karthik Shanker and Madhav Gadgil, professor Navroz Dubash, and environmentalist Tim Flannery is one to catch.
  2. Listen to former Jet Airways cabin crew and the face of the Brussels Airport terror attack, Nidhi Chaphekar, talk about her experience in ‘Surviving a Terror Attack.
  3. Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a well-established Bollywood Bad Man? Gulshan Grover will get candid.
  4. Aspiring writers may want to attend ‘The Power of Realism’, a writing workshop by Australian short story specialist, Julia Prendergast. There is also LitMart, a pitch platform – publishers Harper-Collins India, Pan Macmillan, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Westland, and Juggernaut editors, including Chiki Sarkar and Udayan Mitra, will be there.
  5. There’re exciting things for kids too. Apart from an exclusive bookstore for children, BLF has expanded the children’s programming to include three forums – ‘Abracadabra’ for 4y+; ‘Khul Ja Sim Sim’ for 8y+, and ‘Shazam’ for 12y+ is on both days of the Festival. Activities include writing workshops, illustrations, storytelling, creative games, and music performances. Top picks: Sessions with Geeta Ramanujam, internationally renowned children’s storyteller, and Savio Mascarenhas, art director at Tinkle Comics and creator of Shikari Shambhu and Suppandi.
  6. Don’t miss the interactive installation ‘itihaasa’ that recounts the history of Indian IT since the 1950s, and ‘Celebrating 150 years of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table’ in collaboration with Royal Society of Chemistry.
  7. Our pick of unique performances include ‘Jane Austen – The Lass With the Delicate Air’ by Jagriti Theatre; ‘Beloved Witch’ by India’s best known Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverty; and an interaction with Lucky Ali and musician Rudy David.

The festival opens at 10:00 am on Nov 9 and 10. Entry is free, open to all, though registration is recommended. For registration, complete schedule of events, participating author bios, and other information, log on to www.bangaloreliteraturefestival.org.

Ruth Dsouza Prabhu

Ruth is an independent journalist based in Bangalore. Always in pursuit of the next story that interests her, loves her food and drink, bookworm and a sucker for sunsets and airplane journeys.