Bali's very own word class literary festival returns this October for the 5th Ubud Writers and Readers Festival with the theme Tri Hita Karana - the Balinese tenet that balance must be preserved between God, humanity and nature.
This year's festival will celebrate three dynamic Chinese women authors - Geling Yan, Lijia Zhang and Fan Wu. Geling 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. The Banquet Bug (or The Uninvited) is her most recent novel.
Lijia 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.
Fan Wu was born on a state-run farm in mainland China, where her parents were exiled during the Cultural Revolution. Set in modern China, her novel, February Flowers tells the stories of two young women's journeys to self-discovery and touches on tender issues of sexuality.
This year, the Festival will also spotlight the rising stars of South-East Asia with Malaysian-born Preeta Samarasan and Chiew-Siah Tei, and Singaporean Wena Poon. Preeta's debut novel, Evening is the Whole Day has been described as "a magical, exuberant tragic-comic vision of postcolonial Malaysia reminiscent of Rushdie and Roy."
Chiew-Siah Tei is a bilingual writer whose first novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes, was long listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2007.
Wena Poon's debut book of short stories, Lions in Winter is "refreshingly unpretentious and heartfelt," examining the quiet lives of displaced Singaporeans, who are often torn between two worlds in their search for an imaginary homeland.
On the food front, The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah will host a Homage to Rice event on the edge of a scenic rice field. Chinese-Sri Lankan chef Jimmy Shu, Indonesian TV food personality Bondan Winarno, Helena Norberg Hodge and some of the festival's most dynamic poets will charm you an unforgettable lunch of food and thought.
Helena Norberg-Hodge is a leading analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures around the world, and is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture. Jimmy Shu is one of Australia's best exponents of mixed Asian cuisines and Bondan Winarno is a well-known TV presenter on Indonesian food across the archipelago.
An equally distinctive and impressive line-up of talent from more then fifteen countries will be featured alongside more than thirty Indonesian writers covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journalism, scriptwriting, film, new media and more.
For more information [www.ubudwritersfestival.com]
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