This year’s Bay Area Book Festival, a two-day literary celebration held annually in Berkeley, spotlights award-winning Indian and Indian-American thinkers, artists, chefs, and novelists during its fifth anniversary event. The festival features nearly 500 speakers and exhibitors giving book lovers a chance to meet acclaimed authors, along with an outdoor fair with hundreds of literary exhibitors.

Saturday night’s keynote speaker Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, will talk with former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, about economic inequality at 7:30 p.m., May 4, at the Berkeley Community Theater. A former McKinsey consultant-turned New York Times columnist, Giridharadas is now a bestselling author. At just 29, he was selected as part of a group of distinguished fellows for the Aspen Institute, in a group comprised largely of rising stars in the business world. Giridharadas was bothered by how the people best-equipped to protect the interests of the poor are the rich and rich adjacent. In this strident criticism of the wealthy, Giridharadas mercilessly mocks them.

Sunday afternoon, May 5, at 12:45 p.m. on the free San Francisco Chronicle Stage in the park, chef Nik Sharma, creator of the award-winning food blog A Brown Table, will present his first cookbook, Season, which features recipes inspired by his travels from culinary India “by way of the American South to California.” in his debut cookbook Sharma weaves a story that is deeply personal – that of a gay immigrant reconciling his past and present. With stunning photography, he shares a treasury of ingredients, techniques, and flavors that combine in a way that’s both familiar and completely unexpected.

Other South Asian speakers include Indian-American graphic novelist Nidhi Chanani, Indian-American novelist Devi Laskar, Indian-American journalist and virtual reality innovator Lakshmi Sarah, and Sikh-American civil and political rights lawyer and capital investor Arjun Sethi, with a book on hate crimes.

The Festival’s other featured authors will come from every corner of the literary world—from Young Adult and memoir to nonfiction and cooking. They range from Ann Beattie to New York Times ethicist columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Literary sessions take place in a dozen venues in downtown Berkeley and on outdoor stages in the main downtown park. The entire experience is walkable. Shows in outdoor venues are free.

Festival founder and director Cherilyn Parsons has been close to India and Indian writers for some time. “I take part in the Jaipur Literature Festival every year, which has been a model for the Bay Area Book Festival in many ways. I’ve never seen a more book-loving people than Indians! I’m delighted to feature writers who come from this part of the world.”

There is a ticket giveaway to the festival keynote with Anand Giridharadas and Robert Reich! The first five people to email with “India Currents ticket giveaway” will be granted a pair of free tickets to the event. Be sure to include your name. Your tickets will be delivered to you via email.

Guaranteed seating in indoor programs can be accessed through priority tickets at $10/session. Attendees may also purchase a $15 wristband for general admission for access to all indoor sessions all weekend on a space-available basis.


11 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, May 5


Downtown Berkeley 
Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park

To see the whole schedule of events, visit

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter, Facebook for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news and magazines. 

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor,...