England’s South Asian Desiblitz Literature Festival Plans a Hybrid Edition

In News by Porter Anderson

The third staging of the Desiblitz Literature Festival in Birmingham will feature both published authors and workshop programming for aspirational writers.

A panel discussion in the 2019 edition of the UK’s Desiblitz Literature Festival. Image: DLF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Platform for New Voices’
As many of our Publishing Perspectives readers will know, the term “desi” frequently is used in Britain and other parts of the world to refer to people of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent. And Desiblitz.com is a popular nonprofit digital magazine in the United Kingdom. Launched last year, it’s focused on arts and culture, fashion, film and television, food, health and beauty, and more lifestyle areas for the desi community.

The company produces a Desiblitz Literature Festival, which has announced a physical-plus-digital “hybrid” edition of its program for September 18 to October 1 in Birmingham. The festival features South Asian and British South Asian literary figures headlined by author Nikesh Shukla, familiar to many of our readers, and the journalist Sathnam Sanghera.

Now three years old, the festival sees as part of its mission encouraging the work younger South Asians, and the September programming is devised to feature 18 writers and thinkers of South Asian descent, in conjunction with workshops, panel events, and poetry readings.

In a prepared statement we have today (August 9) on the announcement, the festival’s founding director Indi Deol is quoted, saying, “This is the third annual literature festival curated and produced by Desiblitz.com.

Indi Deol

“As in previous years, the aim of the  festival is to provide a platform for new voices from within the British South Asian writing community, as well as feature existing British South Asian voices who are already successful as role models.

“As well as aiming to inspire new creative writers, it provides an opportunity to highlight the way writers of South Asian descent have contributed to the literary canon across the world.

“It has never been more important to showcase the incredible and multifaceted talent of Britain’s South Asian literary community.”

Featured Authors

Many events in the Desiblitz program are styled as “in conversation” sessions with key authors in the desi community.

  • Bangladeshi novelist and Granta Young Writer Tahmima Anam discusses her 2021 novel The Startup Wife
  • Author, journalist, and screenwriter Sarfraz Manzoor discusses his new book They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other
  • Nikesh Shukla, author of The Good Immigrant, talks about his new book Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family, and Home
  • BBC presenter Anchal Seda talks about her new book What Would the Aunties Say? A Brown Girl’s Guide To Being Yourself and Living Your Best Life
  • Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera talks about his latest book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain
  • Self-published author Preethi Nair hosts a talk titled “Being Published, Traditional or Indie? The Pros and Cons”
  • Writer-painter Amruta Patil, an Indian graphic novelist, talks about her work, described as involving ancient Indian philosophy and ecological-feminist elements
  • Samit Basu is an Indian science-fiction novelist who discusses Chosen Spirits, a near-future anti-dystopian Delhi novel
  • Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London and talks about Take It Back, a novel
  • Saima Mir is a British Pakistani journalist who talks about her debut crime novel The Khan
  • Serena Patel, whose work is illustrated by Emma McCann, speaks as part of a panel discussion on how “Diverse Characters Matter in Children’s Books”

In terms of those workshops for aspirational writers:

  • Rupinder Kaur—not to be confused with Rupi Kaur—leads a workshop in South Asian poetry and the short form known as the ghazal
  • Shyama Perera has a workshop in memoir
  • Bali Rai teaches about character arcs, settings, and description in various genres

Venues for the festival in Birmingham include the Rep Theatre and “B Music,” formerly known as Symphony Hall, in the city center.

Events in the program are free, except for three key programs, each of which requires a £2.99 ticket (US$4.14). Ticketing is advised both for free and paid events.


More from Publishing Perspectives on literary festival events–a number of which are attempting in-person stagings this autumn–is here. More from us on South Asia is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s market is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.