With the third edition of the Tata Literature Live due to begin soon, one wonders if we can hope for a festival whose content mirrors the city it is located in as imaginatively and sympathetically as the countless books written on Mumbai by resident and expatriate writers alike. At a time when literary festivals have become ubiquitous, festival directors will have to think hard about giving their festivals a distinct character which goes beyond the mere fact of the event. “We use the word ‘literature’ in its broadest sense. We are getting away from the academic description of the term,” says author and festival director Anil Dharker. With over 100 participants, the talking point is the presence of Sir Vidia S. Naipaul, the Literature Nobel Prize winner, who will be presented the Landmark Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tata Theatre on the evening of October 31.

The Tata First Book Award also makes an appearance at this festival. The jury — Editor Dileep Padgaonkar, social commentator Santosh Desai, author Siddharth Dhanvant Shangvi, CEO of Landmark, Ashutosh Pandey, and Anil Dharker — will announce the winner on the last day. Other events range from panel discussions, book launches, open house conversations with eminent authors, publishers and literary agents to poetry readings and talks that involve writers like Scott Carney, Mohammed Hanif, Moni Mohsin, Shashi Tharoor, Shobhaa De, Ashok Banker, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote, Gieve Patel, Arundhati Subramaniam, Glynn Maxwell and Ruth Padel. Then there are the evening performances. While Astad Deboo’s rendition of Tagore’s poems will mark the finale, there are many other exciting shows every evening including Shakespeare R&B by London-based Akala, which presents Shakespeare in hip hop style; Chris Larner’s An Instinct for Kindness about euthanasia; and Naseeruddin Shah’s enactment of Vikram Seth’s poems from The Beastly Tales and stories from American humorist James Thurber’s Dogs especially for the festival.

Bottomline: Where the written word morphs into a live show.

Tata Literature Live!: The Mumbai LitFest

Where: NCPA, Mumbai

When: October 31 to November 4

More details: http://litlive.in/