Mystery, romance, #MeToo and history – why you should not miss the Bangalore Literature Festival this week

October 26, 2018

Shinie Antony, festival director of the Bangalore Literature Festival has been organising the event for several years. Here is a curtain raiser on all that you can expect from the seventh edition of BLF this year...

As the next edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival rolls around, book lovers in Bengaluru are agog with excitement. The city’s flagship literary meet, which will be held in Hotel Lalit Ashok, is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The two-day festival will feature a host of distinguished speakers, authors and artistes like Ramachandra Guha, Shashi Tharoor, Aatish Taseer, Girish Karnad, Farzana Shaikh, Ashwin Sanghi, Shobhaa De,  Shashi Deshpande, Arundhati Nag, Sarika, Tanushree Dutta, Sandhya Menon and many others. It is being held at the Lalit Ashok lawns, Bengaluru.

Shinie Antony, author, editor and festival director of Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) and Bengaluru Poetry Festival talks about this year’s BLF and why everyone, and not just book lovers should be there.

Shinie Antony

Edited excerpts from the interview:

YourStory Weekender: Tell us about the latest edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival. What are the highlights this time?

Shine Antony: Each year the festival is different because of the mix of speakers and topics makes the alchemy unpredictable. BLF 2018 is more titled towards the burning issues of the day. Our speakers are from different places, and their concerns and writings stem from their own backgrounds and their own passions.

We have writers from Australia, Sri Lanka and Germany, alongside our homegrown writers at BLF. Sessions span across the Business of Sex (Nalini Jameela, Nora Bossong), on #MeToo (Sandhya Menon, Sister Jesme and Vinta Nanda), on erotica (Madhavi Menon and Pavan K Varma), on fashion (Manjima Bhattacharjya and Shvetha Jaishankar), fake news, 2019 elections and so much more.

YSW: We hear that #MeToo will also be discussed – what will this forum be about?

SA: The #MeToo movement is proving to be just the tip of the iceberg and is poised to go places. To address gender inequality on a war footing, we thought it is high time to talk about this.

YSW: Who are some of the prominent authors you are looking forward to meeting this year and why?

SA: We are looking forward to meeting every author. Some names that have already garnered attention are Vijay Seshadri, Ramachandra Guha, Shashi Deshpande, Shashi Tharoor, Sophie Hannah, Ashwin Sanghi, Rekha Bhardwaj, Girish Karnad, Ashutosh Varshney, Barkha Dutt and Shobhaa De - to name a few. Really, the whole list of authors is compelling this year.

YSW: You edit books for Chetan Bhagat – what is your opinion on his work and style? Why are his books so popular?

SA: As a writer he has his plot, dialogues and humour very much in place. His newest book is a thriller and a new genre for him. The suspense and cliffhangers make for yet another bestseller.

YSW: Is there a fixed formula for the success of a book?

SA: A book should be written, articulate narratives, both fiction and non-fiction, that come from the heart will always work.

YSW: What is your advice to aspiring writers?

SA: Read.

YSW: How did you think of the idea of BLF? How has it changed from the first edition to today?

SA: BLF was an idea that thought itself up. You know how almost every city has its own lit fest, but in 2012 there was none in the south. It began as a dream with writer Vikram Sampath at its helm initially and is today a much-loved festival. Most people talk about BLF as their own festival - everyone owns it.

YSW: Where do you find your stories? How should one go about finding the right idea?

SA: The story has to come from within. It has to be a passion and an obsession. You don't go looking for it, it comes looking for you.

YSW: Which are some of the best books with advice on writing that you would suggest to aspiring writers?

SA: EM Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Julia Cameron's Letters to a Young Artist.

YSW: What do you achieve with the BLF every year?

SA: It is an annual moment of cultural, literary and musical thought coming to life.

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