Ubud encounters: Flanagan takes the bridge

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival began in 2004 as a response to the Bali bombings of 2002. It survived the Bali bombings of 2005 that occurred a week before the second edition of the festival began.

Australian writer Richard Flanagan, perhaps best known for his novels The Sound of One Hand Clapping and The Unknown Terrorist has been a repeat visitor to the festival and a big supporter of it. The Tasmania native is also among many festival writers that have embraced Ubud. His novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, published in Australia last month, was partly written in during a stay in Bali’s hills.

During a panel discussion looking back on the first decade of the festival, an event that not just brings the world to Ubud but brings Indonesian writers to the world, Flanagan observed, “The bombs that were meant to tear people apart have created this wonderful bridge that brings people together, a bridge that grows wider and stronger every year.”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.