The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2008
THE OVERWHELMING SUCCESS of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2007 has confirmed its reputation as one of the largest and most prestigious literary events in Southeast Asia, and has paved the way for even more exciting literary encounters in 2008.
With a packed programme of workshops, discussions, performances and social events, all held in stunning venues in the beautiful Balinese hilltown of Ubud, the 2007 festival delivered stimulation and refreshment for the intellect and senses of the hundred or so writers from Indonesia and around the world who participated in the programme, and the many hundreds of visitors who listened to them and joined them in conversation.
Virtually every festival event was booked out, and for a few of the most popular sessions it was difficult to find standing room. After full days of discussion on aspects of this year’s festival theme, “Sekala Niskala―the Seen and Unseen,” which threw up topics as diverse as the impact of terrorism on real people’s lives, and the ways contemporary Balinese deal with the unseen in their daily lives, enthusiastic visitors thronged to evening events like the poetry slam and the writers’ cabaret.
From listening and talking to acclaimed literary “big names”―Kiran Desai, Rana Dasgupta, Richard Flanagan, Patrick Gale, Tan Twan Eng, Shashi Tharoor, Madeleine Thien and Xu Xi―to experiencing passionate performances from emerging talents like Tusiata Avia, Giannina Braschi, Miles Merrill and Cyril Wong, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2007 programme mixed rare and exciting flavours. It also offered the unique opportunity to experience some of Indonesia’s most exciting writers and to discover the stories, styles and substance that makes Indonesian literature unique.
The underlying theme of 2008’s 5th International Ubud Writers and Readers Festival on October 14-19, 2008 will be “Us and Them.” Together with established writers, emerging writers will confront the issue of cultural collisions. Invited guests include Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, acclaimed Chilean writer Isabel Allende, British-Caribbean author Caryl Phillips, Mexican writer Alberto Ruy-Sanchez, Australian novelist Helen Garner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, and Vikram Seth.
This will be a dialogue like no other at Ubud, which lies on the fertile crossroads of two rivers, two oceans and two continents―Asia and Australia. The exotic retreat of the rich and famous in the 1930s―now re-invented as an international rendezvous for writers, poets, painters and artistes from all parts of the world―has become the stage where voices from China, India, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and more are heard. In 2008 this partnership will be strengthened with writers from beyond the region, from the heart of Africa and South America.
“Collision of Cultures” will be one of the main themes of the Festival in 2008. World religions, languages and lifestyles will be examined and discussed together with the subject of migration and its impact on communities. Hot debates addressing crime and punishment in Asia, and more specifically drugs, civil rights and moral dilemmas, will also take centre-stage. With women’s rights and education in mind, Asia’s rural communities on the periphery of social development will be brought to the fore by literary lights of the day.
As always you’re sure to find a spicy feast of writers, workshops, book launches, literary lunches, dinners and cocktails, conversations and panels, with poetry, performance, dance and music to heighten the unique flavour of the festival.
And if that is not enough, the Festival in 2008 will take to the streets, literally, with international street performers matching their wits against Ubud’s youth in a carnival of skill and artistry.
Ubud in 2008 will be a literary encounter like no other.