BYO to Virtual Ubud

Inspired performances are a fixture of the UWRF Photo: Agung Abi

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival isalive and well and readers anywhere in the web-connected world can take part in this extraordinary feast next week.

From 29 October to 8 November, the epicenter of the contemporary literary world is Ubud’sKembali 2020. That theme directly speaks to Bali’s rebuild, and the festival gives local talent a much-missed audience.

The lineup of guests is first-rate, the topics are hot, and you can even submit audience questions right now, in advance of the festival. Do NOT miss out on the fun!

The festival is accessed safely online, withheadlining writers and global giving their time to you and all friends of Ubud. You’ll witness the tales of courage, sensitivity and magic just as our past Ubud Writers Festivals became such stellar happenings.

One tempting highlight is a panel of local luminaries including Jan Mantjika (Jan’s Tours, and author of her no-holds barred memoir beginning in 1960’s Bali, The Shadows That Dance In and Out of My Memory) who will discuss the implications of 2020: A Year When the World Stopped Traveling.

David Byrne, frontman of innovative 80’s band Talking Heads and all-round renaissance man, will be interviewed on his critically acclaimed musical American Utopia, which has then filmed under Spike Lee’s direction and released to such raves as “a flat-out masterpiece” and “should be required viewing for everyone – magical!”

What are the Balinese doing for waste management, you might wonder. Check out the session withIda Bagus Mandhara Brasika,lecturer in the Department of Marine Sciences of UdayanaUniversity,. He founded Griya Luhu, an NGO focused on developing waste management systems in villages.

Calling all expat veterans of the multinational rat race! That prestigious job you held under a prosperous yetheartless corporation may well have in its roots the trade model set by a criminally greedy capitalist monster, what historian and audience favorite William DalrymplecallsThe Anarchy: The Relentless Rise Of The East India Company. Prepare to be entertained at his session of the same title.

Activists and techies should look into Celina Agaton (Map the Philippines) who is fascinated by the intersection of food, maps, and culture. Get acquainted with the tech of crisis mapping and the latest management tools to aid communities under threat.   We have extraordinary real-time data technology at our fingertips;how is this helping humanity deal with crises like earthquakes and famines?

Young adult readers and fans of coming-of-age novels will want to hear from Java’s Ahmad Fuadi, whose touching and humorous Land of 5 Towers also happens to bea great favorite of this columnist. It’sbased on his own challenges at an Islamic boys’ boarding school, and the story will surprise and charm readers age 12 and above. Ahmad, fluent in English and well-traveled, will be interviewed in one main program session and alsoconduct an Indonesian language workshop on writing from the heart.

Please visit for the complete program.

Three streams categorize the events:

Main Program (one on one interviews, topical panels and presentations)

Workshops (using Zoom, led by expert writers, performers and professionals, limited enrollment and interaction)

Free Events (book launches, film screenings, music, and TeaterKuliner cooking demonstrations)

As in years before, prior registration is an enormous advantage, but this year this is easier than ever, with UWRF remaining one of the world’s most reasonably priced literary festivals.

In a donation scheme considerate of even the slimmest bank account, the most basic pass is a Main Program all-access account. An account for this access will let you log in to any Main Program event up to one month after the end of festival, so never mind festival burn-out and the Sophie’s Choice agony of scheduling conflicts.You can have it ALL.

The Main Programis yours by creating your own account and password, obtained with your donation through this portal:

Serious writers, aspiring comedians, and foodies may wish to sign up for a limited-participant Workshop. The one ticket will give the bearer full participation in the scheduled Zoom workshop AND the added benefit of a Main Program all-access account. If that isn’t the deal of the year, please find me a lit festival that is giving away solid gold nuggets.

Free Events’ start times and lineups are being fine-tuned at press time, so check social media and subscribe to the festival e-news.The e-news signup is at or just “Like”ubudwritersfeston Facebook. Twitter will have @ubudwritersfest,and#ubudwritersfestcan be followed on Instagram.

News flash: sister festival Ubud Food Festival has leaked a couple of hot interviews from August. If you or a friend is looking for solid advice on restaurant branding and on business-savvy menu pricing, check out these two full length videocasts, in Bahasa Indonesia. Tell that friend who is aiming to reopen an eatery but needs to be primed for success:

Graphic Artist ReevoSaulusfeatured inCulinary Business 101: Tempting Buyers Through Branding Design

; is found here:

and check out restaurant consultant DwiErmayanthi inCulinary Business 101: Not Just Pricing, viewed at

These are absolutely free to stream right now.

This stylish and magical festival does not live on applause alone. Please give a donation now and we will see it together, year after year.

By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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