After making international headlines last year, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) has today announced a ‘sneak peek’ of the authors, artists and advocates who will be leading this year’s powerful five-day program of global voices and extraordinary stories from 26-30 October, ahead of Early Bird Ticket sales on 27 July.
Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas, the UWRF will focus on topical political, social, historical and environmental issues through the lens of this year’s theme – Tat Tvam Asi or ‘I am you, you are me’ – cementing its reputation as platform for global dialogue.
In the first round of speakers announced today (18 July), the Festival hints at a dynamic and highly topical program, played out across open-air panel sessions, intimate in-conversations, stimulating literary lunches, late-night arts and music performances, hands-on workshops, film screenings, and more.
Exploring the real and imagined boundaries of what we call ‘home’, the Festival is pleased to welcome the investigative journalist who went undercover in North Korea for her most recent book Suki Kim, Sudanese-American 2015 World Poetry Slam champ and social advocate Emi Mahmoud, and foreign correspondent and Indigenous Australian author Stan Grant.
Celebrated American novelist Hanya Yanagihara also joins the Festival lineup, as does 2016 Stella Prize-winner Charlotte Wood, controversial Indonesian writer and social commentator Seno Gumira Ajidarma and powerful feminist film-maker Djenar Maesa Ayu, all of whom will reflect on the transformative power of art, and how it can navigate the fine line between controversy, confrontation and empathy.
Leading the discussion on writing across borders, Eka Kurniawan will return to the UWRF stage fresh from his long-listing in this year’s Man Booker Prize for Beauty is a Wound, along with winner of The Guardian First Book Award Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos, and winner of the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction, Amanda Lee Koe.
Artistic expression through film and theatre will also be central component of the Festival program, with speakers including author of novel-turned-documentary The Residue Years Mitchell S. Jackson, prominent Indonesian actor – whose career has spanned multiple decades and political regimes – Slamet Rahardjo, Founder of Sumatran community initiative Teater Satu Iswadi Pratama, and celebrated screenwriter Ratih Kumala.
Founder & Director of the UWRF, Janet DeNeefe, said she was excited to witness the Festival’s continuing transformation over the past thirteen years. “What started as a community initiative has well as truly evolved into a world-class event with an important role to play in cross-cultural dialogue and connection,” she said. “Now, more than ever, we are dedicated to tackling the issues that both divide and unite us all.”