ASEAN Literary Festival Brings the Region’s Finest Writers to Jakarta

Top writers and thinkers from across Southeast Asia will gather for the third edition of the Asean Literary Festival at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Central Jakarta on May 5-8. This year’s festival, themed “The Story of Now,” brings into focus the way Southeast Asian authors “respond and  adapt to the current global system,” the festival’s website says. This marks the festival’s continuing dedication to themes of democracy and human rights, as was also apparent in its previous instalments. The festival was initiated in 2014 by the Muara Foundation, a Jakarta-based nonprofit organization that aims to improve education and cultural literacy in Indonesia. Programs throughout the four-day event range from panel discussions and readings, to workshops and children’s programs.

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Why it matters:The forum is important to promote greater attention towards ASEAN literatures. Indeed, the Southeast Asian region has yet to produce a Nobel Prize in Literature winner. This is not because of lack of talent. Countries in Southeast Asia have produced literary geniuses, such as Pramoedya Ananta Toer from Indonesia, or Jose Rizal from the Philippines. A forum that coalesce the diverse literatures in the region in one place is important to put greater attention from the world toward the treasure trove that is Southeast Asian literatures.

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