With over 150 writers from more than 30 countries it’s truly a celebration of global issues, big ideas, and extraordinary stories. The 2014 theme Saraswati: Wisdom & Knowledge unites the program in an energising exploration of how we learn and the wisdom to be gained by creative expression. Leading the lineups Sir VS Naipaul – the Trinidad-born, UK-based writer whose impressive trajectory includes a knighthood, a Booker Prize and a Nobel Laureateship. This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness one of the literary legends of the 20th century.
A number of the Festival’s writers are no strangers to prizes, with Eimear McBride winning this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize, Cyrus Mistry the recipient of the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (who we have partnered with this year), and Reinhard Kleist receiving a nod from the Grand Prix de Lyon for his graphic novel The Boxer. Hassan Blasim was the first-ever Arab writer to win the UK’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his short story collection The Iraqi Christ, while environmentalist Tim Flannery was crowned Australian of the Year in 2007.
Queen of Crime and creator of much-loved series Wire in the Blood, Val McDermid will be joining us from Scotland. Festival favourite and master novelist Amitav Ghosh joins us along with his wife and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Deborah Baker – and they will also be leading an exclusive Komodo Islands cruise post-October 1-5. With wandering in their blood, the program has fearless adventurer and author of hit memoir-turned-film Tracks, Robyn Davidson; British travel writing great Colin Thubron; intrepid hiker Tim Cope; and American author of Lunatic Express Carl Hoffman.
Rayya Elias, Kate Holden and poet Kosal Khiev are all survivors of different stripes, whether their story is of prison, prostitution or heroin addiction. Star of Spike Lee’s Inside Man and HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, Carlos Andrés Gómez is also the author of Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood and an acclaimed spoken-word poet and writer. Leading the vanguard for experimental, avant-garde writing are Chinese writer Can Xue and Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura – both of whom can be enjoyed in-conversation during the festival. Celebrated comic book artist Ant Sang – best known for the hit show Bro Town – first-ever published Maori short story writer Patricia Grace, illustrator Tim Molloy and short story satirist Nic Low will also be joining the program, all from New Zealand.
From Indonesia the Festival has invited publishing pioneer and man-of-letters Goenawan Mohamad, intellectual and Islamic scholar Azyumardi Azra, respected Ubud-based art patron and gallerist, Agung Rai, indie rocking artists Made Bayak Muliana, and award-winning documentary maker Dwitra J Ariana. ‘Truman Capote with a machete’ and acclaimed architect, garden designer and columnist Made Wijaya joins the line-up, as does How to act Indonesian YouTube hit sensation Sacha Stevenson. Festival favourites Debra Yatim, Ahmad Fuadi and Ketut Yuliarsa – who all also formed the curatorial board for the invited emerging Indonesian writers – will again join us and enrich discussions with their extensive experience in poetry, playwriting, fiction and more.
Plenty of participants are ardent human rights activists and social commentators, from the one-time UN Representative in Sudan Mukesh Kapila, to frontline journalist Pallavi Aiyar, cyber-dissident and secretary of PEN Myanmar Nay Phone Latt, author of The Wisdom of Whores and Indonesia Etc. Elizabeth Pisani, and Polish activist, editor and journalist Adam Michnik. For the environmentally aware, the exciting Environment Day program returns, held at the award-winning Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa wellness retreat, featuring discussions on climate change, coral rehabilitation and Indonesia’s forests with spokespeople including conservationist Willie Smits, CEO of Body Shop Indonesia Suzy Hutomo, and coral reef artist and activist Celia Gregory.
In addition to this stream, there is a yoga-oriented selection at Ubud’s famous Yoga Barn and an exploration of the surfing story in Bali both during the Festival and at a fringe event at Canggu’s Deus ex Machina with author Phil Jarratt and legendary surfer Rusty Miller.
Finally, with a world-renowned restaurateur and cookbook author at the helm of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival – Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe – naturally there is a feast of foodie delights to be enjoyed as well. Cooking demonstrations led by our exotic authors and chefs (including Marco Padang and Bondan), are held daily near the main venue, providing an up close and personal encounter of the writer’s culinary skills. And as the sun sets on Ubud’s never-ending sea of green, the special events kick in, with film screenings under the stars (this year including Sokola Rimba, Tracks, Charlie’s Country and more), arts performances and vibed-up world-class music from Indonesia and abroad.
With literary lunches, in-depth conversations, intriguing panel discussions with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers, twilight performances, film screenings, poetry slams, street parties, cultural masterclasses, art exhibitions, book launches and more, be sure not to miss this world class event set in Bali’s cultural heartland. Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, October 1-5, 2014. Tickets and full program via www.ubudwritersfestival.com.