Writers flock to Ubud’s Festival

In August the organisers of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival estimated that about 60 writers would take part. Last minute funding for some writers and a last minute decision to attend for others meant that this estimate was more than doubled.

127 writers, performers, scholars, journalists, publishers and editors from 11 countries attended the 8 day event in Ubud. Of these, 30 were from Australia, 29 from Bali, 29 from the rest of Indonesia, and 14 from overseas. Three high-profile women writers [Ayu Utami, Dewi Lestari and Djenar Maesa Ayu] were sponsored by the Femina Group, 8 writers from outside Java by the FORD FOUNDATION. In addition, the contribution of 25 talented expatriates reflected Bali’s cosmopolitan mix of nationalities.

An ambitious literary program included 60 discussion panels, performances, readings and interviews, 20 workshops, and a number of feature events such as book launches and literary lunches. The most popular sessions were Goenawan Mohamad’s opening address “Through Darkness to Light”;

Goenawan Mohamad (Archive Photo)

A conversation between Jenderal Made Mangku Pastika and Dewi Anggraeni; and panels showcasing leading young Indonesian women writers and travel writers.
Visitors praised the well-thought-out themes, and the unexpected mix of panelists and moderators, many of whom had not met one another before the Festival.