It is that time of the year when the literature enthusiasts across the country gather in some of the beautiful cities to discuss and debate books and ideas. Namma Bengaluru kick started the literature season in all glory with its fifth edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival on the 17th and 18th of December, 2016. The Hotel Royal Orchid in Old Airport Road was abuzz with veteran writers, new authors, politicians and actors turned authors and a lot of literature enthusiasts. The best part of these events, be it the literature festival or the poetry festival, is that there is no entry fee. This is indeed a good step towards encouraging citizens to take part in these events. Both the days of the festival saw a wide range of topics being discussed in 3 different venues named beda, beku and Red couch. The organizers must definitely be lauded for being very inclusive in their choice of subjects for discussion. The festival covered history, politics, geography, biography, popular fiction, erotica, food, travel, evangelism, human rights and a lot more. As much as one might appreciate the range of subjects chosen for discussion, one might also get disappointed with the choice of panellists for those subjects. Except for a few sessions like the ones of Margaret Alva with Anuja Chauhan, Rajiv Malhotra with Mohandas Pai and a couple of other sessions, most of them seemed superfluous. What the fest achieved in variety, it lost in depth. Sometimes the panellists were not impressive and at times the moderators couldn’t get the best out of even veterans like Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
An important aspect of the Bengaluru Literature festival which probably other literature festivals should take note of is getting children involved. Both days had separate events and activities for children. It was very thoughtful of the organizers to have events for children during a literature festival and it was very heartening to see parents and guardians bring the children to participate. Another round of applause to the Bangalore Literature festival for its choice of performances. Again the variety it brought in starting from a standup comedy to the ballet is very commendable. While the Saturday evening was filled with a tribute to Bob Dylan through Guru Rewben Mashangva, the Sunday evening was full of cheers for Piyush Mishra’s poetic musical concert.In 2015 the Bangalore Literature Festival along with Atta Galata instituted a Book Prize to be awarded to literary works in the three different categories. Senior Kannada writer and poet, recent Kendra Sahitya Akademi award winner K.V. Tirumalesh, was awarded the Atta Galatta award for achievement in Kannada literature. Pyre, a translation of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s Tamil novel, won the best fiction work in English. Vinay Sitapati’s Half-Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao transformed India, won the best non-fiction work in English for the year. Being the startup capital of the country, Bangalore Literature Festival also introduced an innovative platform called LitMart in 2015, where aspiring authors were given the chance to pitch their idea for a book to editors and publishers. This year too, the Red couch saw a bunch of young authors pitching their stories to go on print. Bangalore Literature Festival, year after year provides opportunities for its citizens to interact with a lot of their favorite authors. This year was no different. The long queue of people who waited patiently both days to get their books signed by their favorite authors was a itself testimonial. The festival also had a good collection of books in various languages for sale during the festival.One trouble that probably people faced predominantly was the unavailability of food and drinking water. Although there were food stalls, the prices were not reasonable and the options not very healthy given that there were children too at the venue. Despite certain inadequacies, the Bangalore Literature Festival was indeed a thorough celebration of literature and literature enthusiasts will always look forward to the event also in the coming years.
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