First round of 16 storytellers revealed for Ubud Writers & Readers Festival’s 16th year

Posted: 01 July 2019

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has announced the first round of storytellers who will join this year’s five-day program of compelling conversations, intimate special events, and powerful performances from 23–27 October in the spectacular surrounds of Bali’s cultural heart. Early Bird tickets are now on sale until 2 August, before the full program is announced on 13 August.

In 2019 UWRF celebrates its 16th year as one of the world’s leading literary events, with The Telegraph UK naming it one of the five best literary festivals for 2019. It will bring together more than 170 authors, artists, and activists from over 30 countries, to share extraordinary stories and bold ideas through the lens of this year’s theme, Karma.

A Hindu philosophy that has evolved into a universal belief, the theme will delve into the impacts of our personal and collective actions on our social and physical environments. At a time when climate change is confronted daily and political certainties are shifting, the ancient spiritual principle will encourage us to ask whether we truly understand the consequences of our actions, and how we can best respond to the actions of others.

Headlining this year’s UWRF is Kurdish-Iranian journalist, scholar, cultural advocate, writer and filmmaker, Behrouz Boochani. Currently incarcerated by the Australian Government in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Papua New Guinea, he’ll appear at the Festival via WhatsApp.

Reframing immigrants as insiders, not outsiders, Jenny Zhang is the Chinese-American author of award-winning Sour Heart. She’ll be joined by leading global strategy advisor and bestselling author Parag Khanna, who believes the future is Asian.

Also appearing is Tara June Winch, a Wiradjuri novelist who writes about reclaiming Indigenous language, storytelling and identity, and Zimbabwean-American Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, a debut writer radically retelling colonization and decolonization.

One of Australia’s most-loved voices, history lover Richard Fidler will appear alongside Susan Orlean, author of the bestsellers The Library Book and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation.

Proving that food can always be a gateway to bigger conversation is one of Britain’s most beloved food writers, Yotam Ottolenghi. He’ll be in fine company with Indonesia’s Laksmi Pamuntjak, an award-winning novelist who believes food is vital for self-discovery.

Shining a light on the archipelago’s minorities and marginalized communities will be Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono, as well as Lala Bohang, a visual artist and writer experimenting with matters deemed invisible, forbidden and imaginary in Indonesian society.

The Festival’s Indonesian Film Program offers international audiences a rare opportunity to enjoy local productions and hear from its industry members. Headlining this year’s cinematic offerings is Rayya Makarim, the screenwriter and producer behind some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking films.

“Cultural and artistic diversity has always been at the core of UWRF, and this first round of international and Indonesian speakers is testament to this,” commented UWRF Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe. “From Aceh to Zimbabwe, this year’s Festival will unite brave voices, creative minds and bold thinkers from across the country and the world,” she continued.

“After our milestone 15th year in 2018, we cannot wait to welcome both seasoned and new audiences to another year of one of the world’s best literary and artistic events. See you in October!”

Early Bird tickets save you 20% on the regular price of a 4-Day Pass. To purchase your Early Bird ticket, click here. For the full list of the first round storytellers, click here. The full lineup will be revealed on 13 August.