One of the world’s leading literary and arts events, Ubud Writers & Readers Festival today welcomes 180 authors, artists and activists from 30 countries for its 16th year. Under the banner of this year’s theme, Karma, they’ll appear in over 170 events across Ubud and Bali, including panel discussions, performances, workshops, film screenings, book launches, long table lunches and more from 23–27 October.
From Indonesia to Italy, Colombia to Canada, Portugal to Pakistan and dozens of countries in between, the five-day program of extraordinary stories, diverse voices and brave ideas will demonstrate why The Telegraph named UWRF one of the world’s five best literary festivals for 2019.
International guests include BAFTA-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur Akala, Chinese-American author and poet Jenny Zhang, writer, poet, and playwright Lemn Sissay, Zimbabwean-American historical fiction author Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Iranian-American religious scholar and author Reza Aslan, Indigenous Australian writer Tara June Winch, and Australian author and radio host Richard Fidler.
They’ll be joined by legendary Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, journalist, author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Megan K. Stack, celebrated British food writer Yotam Ottolenghi, award-winning author and illustrator Mira Jacob, and Kurdish-Iranian award-winning writer Behrouz Boochani, who is currently incarcerated on Manus Island and will appear via live stream.
As Indonesia’s premier platform for showcasing its writers and artists to the world, the Festival is honored to welcome author and journalist Laksmi Pamuntjak, Indigenous education pioneer Butet Manurung, BBC Indonesia journalist and writer Famega Syavira Putri, author, artist and gender activist Eliza Vitri Handayani, rising star of Balinese literature IGA Darma Putra, and one of the nation’s foremost film directors, Garin Nugroho.
Across 70 Main Program sessions comprising panels and one-on-one interviews, audiences will learn how storytelling can – and has – created real change on a local and global scale. Sessions such as Bali’s Art Activists, Indonesia Cinema as Soft Power, and Asia Pacific Futures on the Page, Stage and Screen will gauge the creative industry’s social and economic impact.
Audiences will also be invited to consider how the arts can break down barriers and connect people across languages, cultures and politics at panels including The Role of the Arts in Cultural Diplomacy and Outside, Inside – a vital conversation on rewriting tropes of migration.
Events outside the Main Program also promise ample inspiration. In the glorious gardens of Blanco Renaissance Museum, Power, Politics, and Poetry Under the Stars will be a rare opportunity to see world-renowned spoken word artists share the stage with one of Indonesia’s most progressive musicians, Nova Ruth. At [untitled], attendees will experience tales from the margins, stories of pride, prejudice and finding community through a shared experience of difference.
The Festival also today announced its new Translators’ Prize, in partnership with the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP). Open to translators anywhere in the world, the winner will receive AUD1,000 towards flights to Bali to attend next year’s UWRF, as well as a range of AAWP membership benefits.
Since 2008 the Festival has worked with a team of translators to publish its annual Bilingual Anthology of Indonesian Writing, and regularly features panels on the essential role translators play in opening our eyes to other cultures. “It’s long been a dream of ours to offer a prize for exceptional works of literary translation, so we’re thrilled to expand our commitment to global writing communities with the new Prize,” commented UWRF Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe.
“As we reflect on the last 16 years and on how the Festival has evolved into one of the world’s top literary events, we can appreciate its significance as a platform for genuine cross-cultural exchange,” DeNeefe continued. For many, it’s an introduction to Indonesian culture, while for Indonesians, it’s a pathway to reaching national and international audiences.
“Through this year’s theme of Karma, we’re celebrating the writers, artists, and activists from across Indonesia and the world who are deeply aware of the consequences of their actions, and how those consequences will impact on our shared future,” DeNeefe continued.
“If you love a good story or performance, if you’re open to innovative ideas, if you’re eager to learn more about this region, or if you simply believe in the power of creativity to generate real change, then come and experience the magic we’re now famous for. For many, UWRF has been life changing. It has been for me, and I hope it will be for you too,” DeNeefe concluded.