Words around the world

Thousands of miles away, while Whistler was hosting its writer's festival, just south of the equator Bali was celebrating its own literary celebration. The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival just wrapped up its seventh successful event with more than 120 writers from 28 countries in attendance and nearly 2,000 registered attendees.

This year's theme was "Harmony in Diversity," Bhinneka Tunggal Ika in Bahasa Indonesia. The organizers' intent was to create a world-class literary event that would bring together diverse voices for intercultural dialogue and exchange and to advocate respect between all people; across religious, ethnic and social divides.

"The East will cross paths with the West. It will be a literary celebration like no other," said Janet De Neefe, co-founder of the festival.

Harper's Bazaar UK has called Ubud, "One of the six best literary festivals in the world." This year's big ticket guest was Louis de Bernieres, the British author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin (1994) which was made into a movie in 2001 staring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

Bernieres, a jovial, witty, burley individual, says that Captain Corelli's Mandolin was his War and Peace . He doesn't make any claims to be Tolstoy, merely, "It was the best I could be at that time."

Today he feels his new work is better.

Although Captain Corelli's Mandolin was a huge international success, de Bernieres wasn't pleased with the outcome of the movie. "The main problem with film is it's not as individual as the book. It goes off by the demands of producers wanting what they believe the market wants," de Bernieres said.

He referred to directors as, "Dogs who don't believe they own anything unless they have pissed on it."

He said the first author to really have control over a movie was J K Rowling. "At the time of Captain Corelli's Mandolin , authors didn't have that kind of control," de Bernieres said.

From Russia with intrigue were Oleg Borushko and Galina Laraveza. Sharing their life experiences during the Soviet era, the duo captivated their audience. Laraveza, an expert translator, clarified that with Russia geographically situated between Asia and Europe it allowed poets and writers to absorb both cultures and traditions.

She stated that prior to World War I, Russian poetry was blooming. By the 1930s the Soviet government wanted to educate the population through their own writers and poets to spread the party line and create nationalism. Although poets and writers couldn't express themselves freely, it was fashionable to be well read. This interest in literature spread throughout Soviet society, including factory workers.


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