The DESIblitz Literature Festival returns for a fourth time this year taking place at the Birmingham Rep Theatre, Birmingham, UK. Welcoming 18 British South Asian and South Asian literary stars in a combination of in-person and online events, this year’s festival marks a return to live-action having moved online last year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The DESIblitz Literature Festival 2021 is the UK’s leading South Asian Literature Festival. Opening in Birmingham City Centre on the 18th of September with a string of leading British South Asian and South Asian literary stars, DESIblitz will feature a mix of in-person and digital events. Most events are free, with the exception of three headline events – with Sathnam Sanghera, Nikesh Shukla, and a panel event on Cultural Representation in Literature.
The festival, organised by Birmingham-based British Asian magazine DESIblitz.com, it is designed to encourage young and aspiring British Asian writers but is open to all. From the biggest new book releases to up-to-the-minute political debate, there will be events covering fiction, poetry, history, politics, diversity, erotica, psychology, science, art, and much more, that will inspire a love of reading in adults of all ages.
It provides a programme of author events, workshops, performances, and panel discussions, showcasing the work of British South Asian authors and poets, and international writers with South Asian heritage. As well as aiming to inspire new creative writers, the festival provides an opportunity to highlight the way writers of South Asian descent have contributed to the literary world.
The British South Asian demographic is still hugely underrepresented in British publishing and panel events taking place at the festival will include Diverse Characters Matter a panel discussion about the importance of diversity in children’s books, with leading authors Bali Rai, Serena Patel, Sita Brahamchari and Monika Singh Gangotra; Cultural Representation in Literature, a panel discussion about the importance of diversity in adult writing with Saima Mir, Pragya Agarawal and Sufiya Ahmed; as well as Women of Colour in Publishing a panel discussing the importance of diversity in British Publishing with Farhana Shaikh from Dahlia Publishing, and Hannah Chukwu from Penguin.
Two notable authors; Bali Rai and Farhana Shaikh are the ones to watch out for. Born in Leicester to Punjabi parents, Bali Rai is an award-winning author and writer of more than 40 culturally diverse young adult, teen, and children’s books. His latest book Mohinder’s War is set in World War II France when a young French girl meets Mohinder – an Indian-born RAF pilot.
Bali will be taking part in a panel discussion ‘Diverse Characters Matter’ with fellow children’s authors Serena Patel, Monika Singh Gangotra, and Sita Brahmachari.
Farhana Shaikh is a writer, publisher, and journalist born and bred in Leicester and who lives here with her two children and husband. She is the founder of The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature, and also established an independent press called Dahlia Publishing, which aims to nurture regional and diverse writing talent. She’ll be running a panel discussion about Women of Colour in Publishing.
One of the festival’s core aims is to create an incubator for British South Asian literary talent and to encourage young and aspiring British Asian creative writers to overcome barriers in the world of publishing.
Some of the authors include Nikesh Shukla, author of The Good Immigrant, Tahmina Anam, writer of The Startup Wife, and journalists Sathnam Sanghera and Saima Mir.
DESIblitz.com’s first venture into literature events began with the production of a specific British Asian Literature strand for the Birmingham Literature Festival in 2017. The organisation then went on to produce a series of high-quality, independent festivals every year since then. The festival in 2020 was converted to an online offer owing to the UK-wide situation with Covid 19. According to the organisers, DESIblitz.com has launched the careers of more than 40 British South Asian journalists.