2008 Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
The East will cross paths with the West.
It will be a literary celebration like no other.
Tri Hita Karana is the theme of the 5th International Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali. Tri Hita Karana is a Balinese Hindu concept that translates as the relationship between God, Humanity and Nature. Invited international guests include acclaimed Indian author Vikram Seth, U.S. novelist John Berendt, Mexican author Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, literary livewire Nury Vittachi, Australian novelists Carrie Tiffany and Alexis Wright, 2007 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author Indra Sinha, Indian poet Tishani Doshi and Canadian novelist Camilla Gibb.
This year’s festival celebrates two dynamic Chinese women authors: Geling Yan and Lijia Zhang. Yan is one of the most acclaimed contemporary novelists and screenwriters writing in Chinese and English today. Her career began in the late 1970s as a journalist covering the Sino-Vietnamese border war and her first novel was published in China in 1985. In 1989, following the massacre at Tiananmen Square, she left China for the United States. Her novels include The Lost Daughter of Happiness and The Banquet Bug (or The Uninvited). Zhang’s spirited memoir, Socialism Is Great!, tells the tale of her life as a former Nanjing rocket-factory worker who spent 10 years among 10,000 comrades, participated in the Tiananmen Square protest and ended up an international journalist. The effusive Zhang is guaranteed to bring the house down with tales of how having wavy hair betrayed a pretend communist’s bourgeois affinities.
The festival will also be spotlighting the emerging stars of Southeast Asia with Malaysia-born Preeta Samarasan and Chiew-Siah Tei and Indonesian Andrea Hirata. Samarasan’s début novel, Evening Is the Whole Day (4th Estate/HarperCollins, 2008), has been described by Peter Ho Davies as “a magical, exuberant tragic-comic vision of postcolonial Malaysia reminiscent of Rushdie and Roy,” while Chiew-Siah Tei is a bilingual writer whose first novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes (Picador, 2008), was longlisted for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize. Set against the backdrop of an ever-changing China, it is a historical novel written with much freshness and a striking immediacy. Xinran, author of The Good Women of China, called it “a powerful and important story of duty and sacrifice in a time when China was threatened on all sides by the West and the smell of opium filled the air.” Andrea Hirata is a young Indonesian author who has become something of a local hero with the publication of his first best-selling novel, Laskar Pelangi (or The Rainbow Warriors). Laskar Pelangi has sold more than half a million copies in Indonesia, a feat that has never been achieved in Indonesia’s literary history. This charming memoir is a story of Andrea’s childhood and friendship with nine boys (the eponymous “rainbow warriors”), growing up in a poor tin-mining community on Belitung Island. His story of school and the inspiration offered by his teacher is refreshing and endearing and reveals the rich rewards that come from sincere friendship.
“Collision of Cultures” will be one of the underlying themes of the 2008 Festival with established and emerging writers confronting the issues of Us and Them. World religions, languages and lifestyles will be examined and discussed together with the subject of migration and its impact on communities. Hot debates addressing crime and punishment in Asia, and more specifically drugs, civil rights and moral dilemmas, will also take centre-stage.
There will be unparalleled dialogue this year in her at Ubud, which lies on the fertile crossroads of two rivers, two oceans and two continents―Asia and Australia. The exotic retreat of the rich and famous in the 1930s, Ubud has now re-invented itself as an international rendezvous for writers, poets and artists from all parts of the world. It has become the stage where voices from China, India, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and more are heard. In 2008 this partnership will be strengthened with writers from beyond the region, from the heart of Africa and Central America.
Satisfy your hedonistic passions with our acclaimed stars by luxuriating in the lush surroundings of Ubud’s elegant hotels and gracious homes at our literary lunches and dinners. Join our Long Table feast in the rice fields featuring acclaimed chefs and food writers as they showcase Bali’s vibrant food culture. Enjoy workshops that teach the craft of writing or cultural activities that offer a peek inti the mystical, magical world of Bali, in between book launches, performances, exhibitions, cocktail parties and celebrations into the early hours of the morning.
On the Indonesian front, we will be featuring a tribute to the late Sutan Takdir Alijshabana, acclaimed writer and father of Bahasa Indonesia, modern Indonesian as we know it today. The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will honour the contribution he made to the development of this language with a night of performance and readings under the stars in one of Ubud’s majestic temples.
And if that is not enough, the 2008 Festival will take to the streets, literally, with international street performers matching their wits against Ubud’s youth in a carnival of skill and artistry.