Southeast Asia’s leading Festival of words and ideas announces its main program for 2022 – inviting audiences to discover unique voices and exceptional literature from corners both known and unknown, alongside an immersive temple celebration.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) 2022 lineup offers festival-goers an exciting range of over 50 insightful conversations that explore the power of storytelling and the role of the written word in upholding humanity’s values and freedoms. More than 150 writers and thinkers will converge on Ubud to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the issues that bind us together and, conversely, what pulls us apart.
Unveiling the 19th Festival main program, Festival Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe said: “It is such a joy to return to the Festival’s in-person format in October, bringing Indonesian and International writers together in talks and conversations after the pandemic has kept us separated for so long.”
From 27 to 30 October 2022, literary luminaries and acclaimed social commentators will reflect on this year’s Festival theme ‘Memayu Hayuning Bawana’, an ancient Javanese philosophy, which UWRF translates as ‘Uniting Humanity’, referring to humanity’s capacity to beautify our world and strengthen our ties as a collective.
“In a year that has been so difficult for many, with war and conflict, natural disasters and political turmoil affecting our lives and the lives of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, we ask, how can we unite the many strands of different cultures and perspectives to create a deeper understanding, mutual respect, and equality,” said Janet DeNeefe.
On day one, the Festival reflects on the extraordinary life and immense contribution that Putu Oka Sukanta has made to Indonesian literature over more than 40 years. Imprisoned for 10 years during the Soeharto era, Putu learned the art of acupuncture and herbal medicine behind jail walls while penning his works. He is the 2022 recipient of the UWRF Lifetime Achievement Award.
In a much-anticipated conversation, Carla Power, the author of two Pulitzer Prize finalists in General Nonfiction, takes the stage and discusses her latest book, Home, Land, Security, the emerging field of deradicalization with Michael Vatikiotis to share ways to overcome the rising tides of extremism, one human at a time.
This year, Indonesia’s G20 presidency will reaffirm Indonesia’s leadership in the world’s eyes, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo – popularly known as Jokowi – has promised “inclusive, people-centered, environmentally friendly and sustainable growth” as Indonesia’s central commitment. Authors of Jokowi and The New Indonesia, Darmawan Prasodjo and Tim Hannigan discuss Jokowi with Ari Dwipayana and Michael Vatikiotis.
Elsewhere in the program, Ukrainian writers Oksana Maksymchwk and Maz Rosochinsky will discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its repercussions with Lydia Khalil.
Acclaimed writers – Carma Citrawati, Ki Purbo Asmoro, and Esther Vincent Xueming reflect on this year’s Festival theme of ‘Uniting Humanity’ and what it means in reference to their own cultural heritage from Bali, Java, and Singapore with Kadek Purnami.
Elaine Pearson and Andreas Harsono join forces to speak on their experiences defending human rights, from human trafficking in South East Asia to the rights of refugees, in their efforts to represent the oppressed to hold oppressors accountable for their crimes, with Matt Easton.
Booker-prize long-listed author Audrey Magee, together with Ravi Shankar and Felix K Nesi, describe how they interrogate dominant political systems and their impact on the ordinary person throughout their works with Gill Westaway.
Festival highlights also include an in-conservation with Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a scholar of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, who will share her extraordinary fight to survive imprisonment in Iran, and how she raises awareness of these injustices for the emancipates others still held captive with Drew Ambrose.
While Emily Brugman, Ahmad Fuadi, and Nawaaz Ahmed have written very different books set in different parts of the world, they together explore the triumph and tragedy of those affected by migration and discuss the journeys people take to create new lives and opportunities with Ramayda Akmal.
Writer and Festival regular Michael Vatikiotis speaks to Janet Steele about his fascinating family history and origins, from being a place of ethnic harmony and pluralistic traditions to a conflict zone between clashing faiths and contested identity.
Alongside the literary long weekend, Ubud will celebrate a Temple Festival at Pura Gunung Lebah, Ubud’s ancient temple in Tjampuhan, in a spectacular homage to the divine, a feast of beauty and spirituality. Celebrated every 210 days following the Balinese calendar, it will be the largest of its kind since the pandemic took hold in 2020, promising to add to an unforgettable experience for all UWRF Festival goers.
“For the past 19 years, our Festival has been the place to celebrate the written word and stories of emerging and established authors,” said Janet DeNeefe, Founder and Director. “We’re thrilled to bring together old friends and new ones once again to make the last weekend of October a magical, inspiring destination and reaffirm the importance of our event.
Explore our 2022 program here.
Learn more about this year’s theme and the artwork here.