Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Postcards from the 2007 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

I HAD AN AMAZING TIME soaking up the literary atmosphere at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2007 in Bali. Despite the enticing seductiveness of the island of the gods, sightseeing had to take a back seat. It was one mind-boggling whirlwind after another of author sightings and signings. Here is my story in pictures.

With literary livewire Nury Vittachi at the opening of the
2007 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali

Tan Twan Eng and Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai talking about her 2006 Man Booker Prize-winning second novel, The Inheritance of Loss (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton, 2006). Desai says her subject for her prize-winning novel isn’t exactly new: displacement and the immigrant experience as it transforms over generations. In her long-awaited second novel, Desai sets her story of love, life and family against the backdrop of a rising insurgency in the northeastern Himalayas. Her modest début was of course the whimsical Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (Faber & Faber, 1998), a poignant Indian parable of love, life and family that blends folkloric magic with satirical comedy and written in prose that is intensely imagined. We are extremely proud of her literary success.

Nury Vittachi in conversation with Kiran Desai.
Vittachi, of course, used to write the very popular Traveller’s Tales
column in the Far Eastern Economic Review. The most surprising thing about Desai is how friendly and down-to-earth she is despite her literary success. She is of course the youngest woman ever to win the Booker Prize for Fiction since its inception in 1969.

Chow Keng Soon and Sharon Bakar, waiting for our delicious
nasi campur at Indus Restaurant, one of the two main festival halls

Tan Twan Eng and his 2007 Man Booker Prize-longlisted first novel, The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon, 2007), a story about agonisingly divided loyalties and unbearable loss in time of war, human courage and the nature of enduring love. His much-anticipated début novel is a literary feast of a novel, set in the tropical climes of Penang island during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, told with much lyricism, meditativeness and assuredness of touch.

Madeleine Thien, the Vancouver-born daughter of East Malaysian-Chinese immigrants, posing with her moving first novel, Certainty (Faber & Faber/Little, Brown, 2007), a richly textured and nuanced exploration of war, grief and displacement, was first published by McClelland & Stewart in Canada in 2006 and is now reaching audiences in other parts of the world.

Tan Twan Eng and Sharon Bakar

Kam Raslan signing a copy of his first novel, Confessions of an Old Boy (Marshall Cavendish, 2007)

Madeleine Thien signing a copy of her novel. She has also written a highly acclaimed collection of short stories, Simple Recipes (McClelland & Stewart, 2001), which won a slew of literary awards in Canada.

Patrick Gale and Jo Dutton. In his new novel, Notes from an Exhibition (Fourth Estate, 2007), Gale writes engagingly and with a lightness of touch about family relationships. Dutton is the author of the novel, Out of Place (Random House Australia, 2006), a family saga set against the arid landscape that is the heart of Australia.

Madeleine Thien reading a snippet from her novel, Certainty (Faber & Faber/Little, Brown, 2007), a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction. Incidentally, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss (Penguin/Hamish Hamilton, 2006), was also a finalist for the same Pacific Rim literary prize. Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) took the prize.

Patrick Gale, Jo Dutton, Somaya Ramadan and Rosemary Sayer discussing the subject of families. Love them or loathe them, we all have families. Given the universality of family, there is something reassuring in reading about what goes on in other people’s relationships. From the dysfunctional to the endearing, from the tragic to the romantic, families and relationships provide an inexhaustible deposit of literary ore.

Pakistan-born Australian novelist Azhar Abidi is the author of Passarola Rising (Viking Australia, 2006), an energetic and historical fantasy set against the intellectual landscape of 18th-century Europe.

Patrick Gale, the personable author of Notes from an Exhibition (Fourth Estate, 2007) and Rough Music (Ballantine/Flamingo, 2001)


Blogger Lydia Teh said...

Thanks for posting these snippets.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 7:29:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

That's all the photos I had. I am afraid the rest were badly taken.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 4:14:00 AM  
Blogger bibliobibuli said...

very lovely photos, eric. most of mine aren't too great ...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 8:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must check out Patrick Gale's books!

Friday, October 05, 2007 2:45:00 AM  
Blogger Read@Peace said...

Great pix, great posts....
great stuff all round....
A reminder of all the conversations I ended up missing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007 5:59:00 PM  

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