Bare Lit is a festival celebrating the work of writers, poets, playwrights, journalists and academics of colour. The festival was created in 2016 in response to the lack of inclusion of people of colour in the publishing industry, as well as literature festivals and events often being too expensive for many to attend.

Taking place at The Albany Theatre in Deptford, Bare Lit Festival returns to London from today until Sunday so we are getting ready for a weekend of literature in all its glory! Partnered with Hachette UK, Royal Literary Fund and Arts Council England, and sponsored by Penguin Random House UK; the festival promises to be an exciting mashup of discussions, readings, talks, collaborations and participatory sessions that will inspire and inform both writers and readers alike.

For tonight’s launch event, BareLit has teamed up with Matchstick Theatre to present a never-seen-before workshop performance of Gala Mae, a play set in a bustling nightclub in 1950s Soho and present-day London.

This year’s festival will feature a range of collaborations with friends and supporters of BareLit including poetry performances from Apples and Snakes, a screening from Stairs and Whispers, and a panel presented by UK Black Pride about literature and LGBT+ struggles for equality. Readings will include In Scene of the Crime, where award-winning writers will present their hair-raising extracts and spark conversations on crime and mystery fiction. In the Speed Pitching session, industry experts will offer exclusive opportunities for writers to pitch their work to agents. And to round things up, the Keynote speaker will be held by the internationally-renowned writer, editor and socio-cultural commentator Nii Ayikwei Parkes. So there’s plenty to get excited about…

Two discussions that we are most looking forward to over the weekend are Free to Speak, Free to Censor, where authors and journalists will explore the role of the writer in a world where free speech and hate speech have become ideological tools and Imaginations of Development, which will be a conversation on differing perspectives around global ‘progress and development’.

As part of the book fair over the weekend, there will also be two unique food stalls located in the garden of The Albany where world literature is harmoniously combined with food. Chef Baloo owns a restaurant in Deptford called Hullabaloo and will be serving his delicious, vegetarian and vegan food. The dish of aloo parathas and ladoos is featured in Pret Taneja’s We Are That Young, a contemporary Indian reworking of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Aloo parathas are flatbreads stuffed with spiced potatoes, typically served with chutney or Indian pickles. Ladoos are desserts made of flour and traditionally served at festive occasions. The second food stall will feature chicken stew and eba from Tokunbo’s Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant created by Tokunbo Kioki, that allows foodies to experience authentic Nigerian food. Tokunbo’s Kitchen will serve up a dish of chicken stew and eba, inspired by Diana Evans’ Ordinary People, a novel depicting the intricate dramas of nuclear family life. Eba is made from cassava flour and is a staple food eaten in typical Nigerian households. Tokunbo is on a global mission to promote African cuisine on the global food scene. She said: ‘In Nigeria, we say ‘Oya come chop’ when it’s time to eat. I want everyone to have the chance to chop and enjoy mouthwatering Nigerian food’.

This groundbreaking literature festival is about to bring food from books to life.

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