Bali’s renowned Ubud Writers & Readers Festival kicks off Wednesday, October 5 and runs though Sunday, October 9. Despite drama over festival sponsorship that ended with ANZ Bank coming aboard, this year’s eighth edition of the annual event will have a full complement of more than 100 writers from at least a dozen countries.
The event, founded as a response to the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 dead, takes on added meaning this year in the wake of last Sunday’s latest church bombing in Java. The festival always features a variety of writers from across Indonesia and Southeast Asia, fostering wide ranging discussions on contemporary national and regional issues. It also brings writers from the across the Muslim world to the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, albeit to Bali, a Hindu island that’s traditionally welcomed foreigners and their cultures.
Western world headliners at this year’s Ubud event include Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre, Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, and creator of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Alexander McCall Smith. Often, though, it’s the writers you’ve never heard of that make the biggest impressions; these festivals are about broadening literary horizons for readers and writers alike.
Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.