Last night the ninth very amazing Ubud Writers and Readers festival drew to a close. This morning I waved goodbye to my daughter, Ruby J. Murray, as she headed off to Jakarta and Aceh for the festival’s satellite tour. Over the course of the weekend, Ruby spoke about her first novel, Running Dogs on two panels and moderated a third.
Ruby and I first came here together in 2009 when she was living in Jakarta. I was working on my novel India Dark at the time which was launched here in Ubud in 2010. In 2009, Ruby was about to begin work on Running Dogs. So the Ubud festival and its director, Janet de Neefe, are intimately connected to both our novels in many ways.
This is my fifth visit to the UWRF but the first time I’ve been here in Ruby’s shadow. It’s very cool and comfortable in the shade and I think I’d quite like to get used to it.
Outside my window geckos are barking and frogs and night birds are calling out to each other. Above me a ceiling fan is moving the cool night air. I’m staying at the Honeymoon Guesthouse in Ubud in the hills of Bali and it seems like a good time, at last, to write about
I’ve wanted to write a blog about Ruby’s novel ever since it first came out in May but 2012 seems to have been my year of blogging haphazardly. Every time I’ve sat down to write about Running Dogs I’ve felt overwhelmed by how much I want to say about it. I love the novel. I love its depth and integrity. I love its ambitious and demanding nature. It’s dark and sexy and politically complex and also slightly astonishing. It’s literary and thrilling and unputdownable. I also love the author of Running Dogs so perhaps that has inhibited me as much as the fact that 2012 has been a crazy and chaotic year. Although Ruby and I share a terrific connection, her novel is completely different to anything I would ever write.
On Friday morning here in Ubud I conducted a two hour writing workshop with students from the Jakarta International school. The young writers were aged from 13 to 17 years of age and I found myself remembering Ruby at that age. It’s both humbling and exciting to see how the love of words and stories is reinvented by each and every generation.