The Bangalore Literature Festival—or “BLF”— will take place at Lalit Ashok on 03 and 04 December, 2022. This year features a number of star- and starting authors, presenters and more.Nov 27, 2022, 11 18 | Updated: Nov 27, 2022, 13 08
Like every other event of its nature, the Bangalore Literature Festival started small but only a few years, has grown in stature. This year’s edition is an indication of how true that is, judging by the presence of so many wonderful sessions that have been planned at The Lalit Ashok Hotel (which they will call “La-Lit Ashok” for the days of the festival.)
Although the festival lost some momentum in the last two years due to Covid, there is no evidence that the momentum was lost. If anything, it has accentuated the joy of readers, giving them the opportunity to listen to authors, poets, thinkers and other very public voices, live. The demand is being met by a star studded supply of some of the biggest authors visiting the festival.
This year, the festival features several big names in publishing—Pico Iyer and 2022 Booker Prize winner, Shehan Karunatilaka being only two in a long list.
The festival has a packed schedule, with sessions set to take place simultaneously on four stages. The sessions have clearly been scheduled with forethought, and will efficiently herd people of common interest.
Festival director, Shinie Antony spoke to Explocity. “Each year it feels so overwhelmingly huge at the planning stage. So I would say yes, this is the biggest festival yet, but then I am going to say that every year.”
Subodh Sankar of the newly reopened Atta Galatta bookstore—and one of the festival organisers—agreed that this is definitely the biggest yet by the number of authors, but added, “I like to measure it by the footfalls we get on the festival days. So ask me again after the festival has ended.”
Judging by the schedule, this year will have the most number of authors—many of whom will travel from other locations to be here. For example, Pico Iyer, Shehan Karunatilaka, William Dalrymple, Mallika Sarabhai, Barkha Dutt and a host of others.
Sankar told Explocity that the energy of an outdoor festival with authors and readers coming together is unmatched. Different authors draw their own crowd and readers are excited by different authors too. “The overall energy is bigger than the sum of the parts,” he said.
But a festival like this can only grow because of its visitors. So does BLF see public excitement for the festival?
“A lot of it,” Antony said, “just before the festival starts there is this hush waiting in the air you can almost touch. To us it feels like a supernatural moment.”
What about the reading habit? What does a bookstore owner say?
“Book reading is certainly alive,” Sankar said. “We are all involved in creating a reading experience for readers across the country."
At Explocity we are familiar with a number of the authors who will be at the BLF as they have been guests on our podcast, The Literary City With Ramjee Chandran. (At the end of this list is a link to the podcast.)
Anita Nair: Season 01 Episode 03, “How To Hurl A Critic With Great Force. Also Bodice Ripper Romances”
Prasad Bidapa: S01 E04, “The Importance Of Being Seated Opposite Oscar Wilde”
Suresh Menon: S01 E11, “The Suresh Menon Guide To Assassination And Lesser Forms Of Literary Criticism”
William Dalrymple, S01 E18, “Factors And Fibonacci On The Golden Road With William Dalrymple”
Saikat Majumdar: S02 E34, “The Literature Of The Middle Finger With Saikat Majumdar”
Deepti Navaratna: S02 E36, “Wadiyar Of Mysore The Maverick Maharaja With Deepti Navaratna”
Mallika Sarabhai: S02 E37, “The Art And The Realpolitik Of Mallika Sarabhai”
Roopa Pai: S02 E40, “The Conspiracy To Love Cubbon Park Bangalore With Roopa Pai”
David Davidar: S02 E41, “On The Journey To Ithaca With David Davidar”
TJS George: S02 E43, “TJS George And The Inevitability Of The Absurd”
Shehan Karunatilaka: S02 E44, “Winner of The Booker Prize 2022 Shehan Karunatilaka”
Jerry Pinto: S02 E45, “Jerry Pinto, His Muse And The Education Of Yuri”
You can listen to The Literary City With Ramjee Chandran on Spotify, Apple, Google or anywhere you get your podcasts. Access those wonderful interviews from here: https://www.theliterarycity.com
This year, podcast host Ramjee Chandran will be at two sessions at BLF 2022—with Mallika Sarabhai and Barkha Dutt.
Organising a festival of this size must be a logistical challenge. We asked if this involved a large team. The core team is only nine according to Sankar. “Our team keeps growing in an amoeba-like structure," Antony added.
And who pays for it all?
“BLF is a community-funded festival, a non-profit steaming ahead on donations. The people of this city come together in many meaningful ways and this festival is one of them,” Antony said, the website has a Friends of the Festival list of those who generously donated.
The BLF is also where they announce the Atta Galatta Book Prize—a prize that has started appearing on the covers of reprinted editions. Sankar said that the award is like an homage to the authors. He said Atta Galatta was an independent bookstore, with an aim to foster the (reading) community.
The authors, he said, are who make that possible.
Who won this year?
Sankar wouldn’t say. “The jury will speak on 30 November, 2022” he said.