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Ubud festival for writers,
readers begins

More than 80 writers from 23 countries will again bring their inspiring ideas and voices to the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, to be officially opened at the Ubud Royal Palace.

The opening, with Balinese art and cultural performances, will mark the beginning of the four-day literary fiesta, to be attended by Nobel laureates and international literary figures.

Janet De Neefe, the festival founder and director, said this year's theme is based on the Balinese Hindu words suka duka, meaning compassion and solidarity.

"This deep philosophy will become the main theme of all panels, debates, book launches and other literary activities that will certainly produce thought-provoking discussions," De Neefe said.

Located around 40 kilometers north of Denpasar, the hilly and cool Ubud has long been a haven for local and international artists.

The festival is about connecting communities and celebrating ideas among cultures, de Neefe said.

The four-day event, running from Oct. 7 through Oct. 11, will include discussions, book launches, international publishing forums and writing and editing workshops.

A highlight of the festival is the International Publishing Forum, making its second appearance this year, to be hosted by the Indonesian Publishers Association (IKAPI) together with the Lontar Foundation and the Association of Indonesian Translators.

Noted authors at this year's festival include journalist and writer Fatima Bhutto, the niece of the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Her book, A History of Bhutto will be published next year.

Another is Riaz Hassan of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, who wrote Inside Muslim Minds.

Other award-winning authors to attend include Jamie James, LLyod Jones from New Zealand and Hari Kunzu from the United Kingdom.

Veteran Indonesian authors include NH Dini and several flourishing young writers.

Book launches will include Left Unsaid by Margo O'Byrne and The Forgotten Massacre by Peer Holm Jorgensen, which gives a different view of the darkest periods in Indonesian history.

On the long list of writers attending the festival is also Thant Myint-U of Myanmar, the author of The River of Lost Footsteps, A Personal History of Burma.

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