Book lovers can check out the first lit fest edition early next month

Long before Bangalore earned its Silicon Valley tag, it was known for, among other things, its bookshops, its reading rooms and its very alive reading culture. So when the organisers of the Bangalore Literature Festival aim at creating a Jaipur-fest like annual ‘literary extravaganza’, there’s a captive audience that it is assured of: book lovers, poetry enthusiasts and literature aficionados in the city.

No novelty in the city that has hosted several small literary fests, the organisers insist that this is a festival that has “very strong local roots”, yet is a “pan-national platform”. In its first year, the Bangalore Literature Festival, slated to be held from December 7 to 9, will bring together leading local, national and international authors. “We’re doing it for the love of reading and writing,” says author Shiny Antony, who is among the organisers. Besides several panel discussions held over the three days that will “discuss and debate literature, life, poetry and books”, the festival will also showcase the best of Carnatic music and folk performances.

Big names

The event will be inaugurated on December 7 at the Jayamahal Palace Hotel by Kannada writers U.R. Ananthamurthy and Chandrashekar Kambar, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, writers Nisar Ahmed and Shashi Deshpande.

Authors participating in the fest include Mr. Ahmed, Mr. Kambar, Baraguru Ramachandrappa, Anita Nair, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Boria Majumdar, Harish Bijoor, Caroline Newbury and Gautam Padmanabhan, among others.

The festival will begin with a session on the ‘Craft of Poetry’, featuring poet-lyricist Gulzar in conversation with Pavan Varma, followed by ‘Crossfire’ with author Chetan Bhagat.

There will also be a classical music evening performance, ‘Strings Attached’, featuring Jayanthi Kumaresh and R. Kumaresh.

On day two, author-journalist Tavleen Singh’s latest book, Durbar, will be launched, followed by a panel discussion on biographies and memoirs and a poetry session, ‘Nazm aur Tarkash’, featuring Gulzar and Javed Akhtar.

Other sessions are discussions on children’s literature, organised by Pratham Books and Goethe-Institut. The evening event is a Yakshagana performance by Shri Keremane Shivananda Hegde and troupe presenting their famous Vali Moksha, a press release said.

Essay writing winners

In the run-up to the festival, an essay contest was conducted in schools and junior colleges. The four winners’ names will be announced at the festival, and the children will be felicitated by Chetan Bhagat. “We conducted this contest because we felt that Bangalore is criminally under-represented in literature, or even in films. This is a step towards correcting that,” said Vikram Sampath, author and founding trustee of the festival.

On the last day, sessions will revolve around fiction and new-age writing, and one on the “many cities that Bangalore encompasses within itself”. Organisers call this an attempt to search for the soul of the city. Other highlights include a discussion on writing in theatre with Mahesh Dattani and Ashish Sen.

While organisers plan to include all four south Indian languages, this year’s event will only have a regional track featuring Kannada. “We’re taking baby steps now, but next year we definitely plan to grow, and do so in a sustained way,” Mr. Sampath said.

Tribute to Rajkumar

The closing session at the festival, titled Bangarada Manushya, will be Bangalore Literature Festival’s tribute to the iconic actor Rajkumar in the run-up to the 100th year of Indian cinema. The event includes a festival bookstore by comma365.com. For more details and registrations logon to www.bangaloreliterature festival.org

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