Bringing together the finest writers, artists, and scholars from across Southeast Asia, the ASEAN Literary Festival 2017 will take place on 3rd to 6th August 2017 at the Old Batavia Complex in the capital city of Jakarta . Entering its 4th edition this year, the event is also celebrated in conjunction with ASEAN@50, the 50th milestone Anniversary of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Besides the 10 ASEAN member countries, the festival will also draw participation from 20 other countries across Asia, Australia, America, Europe, and Africa.
The ASEAN Literary Festival (ALF) 2017 presents the theme "Beyond Imagination" placing emphasis on the freedom of expression. Addressing issues currently affecting the region, discussions will revolve around topics of minority persecution, the rise of radicalism and extremism, and the deterioration of freedom of expression. In addition to promoting freedom of speech, the ALF 2017 also aims to promote interest in reading and writing amongst the general population.
Aside from dozens of discussion sessions that will be the main focus of the festival, a number of pre-events will also highlight this year's festival. In addition to the book exhibition at ALF 2017, the youth will be encouraged to participate in the new Jambore Nasional Sastra (national literature jamboree), while writers are being offered a Kampung (village) residency program so as to embed themselves in the subject of their work. The aim of these programs is for literature to be accessible and participants "engage themselves with the local communities in the Kampung" so that it does not only stay in the ivory tower in the larger cities. There will also be art & cultural performances, a culinary bazaar, and other programs.
Established by prominent Indonesian novelist Okky Madasari and former editor of the Jakarta Post, Abdul Khalik, the annual Asean Literary Festival has made culture and literature important elements of the ASEAN organization for the past three years. The festival presents ASEAN's poets, novelists, play writers, critics, academics, scholars and artists to perform and discuss the role of literature to help member countries foster a just society, as well as boost human rights, freedom of expression and democratization.
The ASEAN Literary Festival is the first cultural event where all ASEAN countries, that share boundaries, similarities in culture and literature and a common history of having been colonized, as well as share the level of democratization and economic development, they all will gather in one literary festival as one community in literature and culture. The festival seeks to become a medium to boost the quality of the region's literary works while building bridges to get people of literature and the public at large in the region to get to know one another's culture, arts and literary works, thereby bolstering ASEAN in growing into a fully-fledged community.
"Only culture and literature can genuinely unite us;" said Okky Madasari.
The ASEAN Literary Festival 2017 held in Jakarta, is fully supported by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Deputy of National Marketing Development of the Ministry of Tourism, Esthy Reko Astuti commented that the Old Batavia Complex is an excellent choice for the venue for the festival, since it is one of Indonesia's priority destinations. "The ASEAN Literature Festival which is being held annually has proven that the spirit and continuity of the literary event has also contributed to Indonesia's literary scene" added Esthy Reko Astuti.