Indonesian journalist and novelist Seno Gumira Ajidarma seen during last year's Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. (Photo courtesy of UWRF)

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival Set to Return With Over 150 Speakers


SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Updated on Friday (15/09), 11.23 a.m.

Jakarta. Bali is set to host the 14th annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival on Oct. 25-29, with more than 150 authors, artists and activists from 31 countries telling their stories in discussions, workshops, literary lunches and live performances.

"With the number of nations represented at this year's festival, it's clear why previous UWRF speaker Dr. Anita Heiss called it 'the most multicultural, political and diverse event on the literary calendar,'" festival founder and director Janet DeNeefe said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Thursday (07/09).

"At a time when the severity of regional and global events leaves us feeling disempowered, it is vital to hear as many different perspectives as possible and to share with the world Indonesia's national motto – unity in diversity."

Among the leading literary luminaries are British crime fiction king Ian Rankin, Canada's newest literary star Madeleine Thien, Indonesian writers Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Leila S. Chudori, Joko Pinurbo and Nh. Dhini, and Malaysian minority rights activist and author Marina Mahathir.

They will be joined by Jung Chang, author of the autobiography "Wild Swans," Simon Winchester, British journalist and author of "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded," and "Despicable Me" animated franchise director Pierre Coffin.

The power of poetry in public discourse, both written and performed, will be a strong focal point of the festival with speakers ranging from English poet Simon Armitage to 2016 Australian Poetry Slam Champion Arielle Cottingham.

Leading Southeast Asian journalists will also address the region's most pressing concerns. The lineup includes Andreas Harsono, who has covered Indonesia for Human Rights Watch since 2008, Herb Faith Foundation Human Rights Education Award recipient Putu Oka Sukanta, factory worker-turned writer and social commentator Lijia Zhang and the Asia editor of Bloomberg News's editorial page, Nisid Hajaria.

Climate change issues will also be in the spotlight with a discussion by climatologist Tim Flannery, researcher Robert Crocker and Tom Owen Edmunds, head of the climate change unit of the British Embassy in Jakarta.

Comic artists and illustrators will explore alternative forms of storytelling. Sonny Liew, author of the first graphic novel to win the Singapore Literature Prize for fiction, will be joined by Rachel Ang, art director at Pencilled In magazine, Rizqi R. Mosmarth, head of the Indonesian Comic Society, and Ary Wicahyana, who uses the traditional Balinese style of painting to address contemporary issues.

Globetrotters will be awed by the story of Paula Constant, who walked 12,000 kilometers through eight countries, Indonesian travel writer Trinity and Swedish writer Per Andersson, who wrote "The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled From India to Europe for Love."

Foodies can also gain insights from food traveler Joanna Savill, Britain's leading expert on Chinese cuisine Fuchsia Dunlop and Guardian Australia senior writer Brigid Delaney.

The festival will also include art exhibits, children's and youth programs, live music – including a performance by the all-girl Indonesian Muslim metal band Voice of Baceprot, and film screenings.

The full lineup of speakers and performers, as well as ticketing information, can be viewed on the festival's official website.