Ubud writers and reader festival |

Good News for Literature Lovers


The long-awaited Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) returns for its 18th year, from 8–17 October 2021. The Festival moves forward with the theme, Mulat Sarira, interpreted in English as Self-Reflection. The Festival will explore self-reflection, cultural introspection, and human rights: examining who we are, what unites and divides us, and what drives our actions. Photos by UWRF

Drawn from a Balinese-Hindu philosophy, MulatSarira is the spiritual principle of examining one’s actions, thoughts, and values to ultimately build the deepest sense of self-understanding and interconnectedness in pursuit of Dharma, the Truth. Right now, self-reflection is more appropriate than ever before. The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a colossal global crisis that has forced people to deeply reflect and re-invest in themselves and their community.

“We have been shaped by a new normal and, with it, human values of care, co- operation and compassion have been brought to the forefront, while we are left contemplating to which parts of normal do we wish to return?” commented Janet DeNeefe, UWRF Founder and Director. “The theme invites compelling conversations from literary luminaries, emerging writers, activists, academics and journalists, to discuss the importance of self-reflection and how the power of storytelling can connect us across cultures.

From left to right: Cok Sawitri, Amitav Ghosh, and Viet Thanh Nguyen.

This year’s Festival will have meaningful discussions, powerful performances, and poignant readings, following a strict COVID-19 health protocol with social-distancing measures applied. In the 18th year, UWRF will celebrate national and international emerging and established writers, artists, and activists who will delve into the theme across many landscapes.

UWRF  are proud to announce the first round of storytellers who will join this year’s Festival,online and on-site in Ubud, Bali. In addition, they are excited to announce that UWRF21 will also feature a special program of events in Perth, Australia, from 8-10 October 2021, in collaboration with Writing WA.

Headlining this year’s UWRF is Amitav Ghosh, an Indian writer and the winner of the 54th Jnanpith Award. Joined by Indonesian well-known news presenter, Desi Anwar, award-winning author of Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman, and Balinese-born author and performance artist, Cok Sawitri.

From left to right: André Aciman, Desi Anwar, and Wade Davis. 

UWRF will also welcome Pulitzer Prize winner, the Vietnamese-American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. Another headliner is an internationally-known Canadian cultural anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author, and photographer, Wade Davis. 

Also appearing are talented, award-winning women writers: Mexican-American poet, Ada Limón, Australian journalist, broadcaster and author, Julia Baird, and American-Canadian author and filmmaker, Ruth Ozeki.

One of Indonesia's most influential writers, Budi Darma, will be in attendance, along with activists Felix K. Nesi, Eva Bande, and Kalis Mardiasih. Documentary photographer Joshua Irwandi will also join the Festival, highlighting another form of storytelling with his award-winning images.