The Bangalore Literature Festival this weekend will be playing host to over 130 authors, publishers, editors and actors-turned-writers. The festival, the largest in south India, is the only major literary event of its kind in the country to run without corporate sponsorship. The team that helps put it together does so entirely pro bono, and the fest is driven by volunteer energy (disclosure: This writer is a very minor contributor to this energy). A thriving children’s lit fest takes place alongside. Last year, nearly 20,000 people attended.

This year, an extensive collection of names will be gathering under the cool November sky, including authors of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoirs from Bengaluru and beyond—established writers like Shanta Gokhale, Ian McDonald, William Dalrymple, Ed Luce, Tim Flannery, Mahesh Rao, Amandeep Sandhu, Tony Joseph and Amitabha Bagchi will rub shoulders with first-time authors like Keshava Guha, former McKinsey managing director Rajat Gupta, actors Pankaj Kapur, Gulshan Grover, Lisa Ray and singer Shubha Mudgal. Some of the stages at the venue have been named after the late playwright Girish Karnad’s works (Tughlaq and Yayati).

There are several new formats this year: Verse Interruptions, short 15-minute sessions of poetry readings; performances in between sessions to break the monotony of constant conversations, like the ones by singer Lucky Ali or Kathak dancer Manjari Chaturvedi of the Courtesan Project; and an acting set by Jonathan Gil Harris, the author of Masala Shakespeare. “We have tried to plan optimism-oriented talks; to look beyond the issues crowding our minds. BLF this year is all about hope and high spirits," says festival director Shinie Antony.

The Bangalore Literature Festival will be held on 9-10 November at The Lalit Ashok, 10am-8pm.

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