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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Rushdie heads for book festival
Salman Rushdie with bride Padma Lakshmi
Salman Rushdie will appear at the festival
Author Salman Rushdie is to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer for the first time in two decades.

The writer, the subject of a Fatwa imposed by Iran's leaders for alleged blasphemy in 1990, is one of more than 500 literary figures lined-up.

Other big names from the world of books include Dario Fo, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Carlos Fuentes and Zadie Smith.

The festival, based in Charlotte Square Gardens, will run from 13 to 29 August.

It will include 650 events featuring novelists, poets, journalists, scientists, historians, biographers and illustrators from all over the world - including a record 170 Scots.

'Dynamic role'

Veteran left-wing politician and former cabinet minister Tony Benn will appear as well as TV news men Jon Snow, Fergal Keane, Andrew Marr and Rageh Omaar.

Festival spokeswoman Catherine Lockerbie said: "Edinburgh is now the world's first Unesco City of Literature, in recognition of the deep and dynamic role literature plays in this land."

"We are delighted to be reinforcing this message by bringing titans of world literature to the capital.

"They include the joyously anarchic Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo, the massively acclaimed Canadian Margaret Atwood and the only winner of the Booker of Bookers, Salman Rushdie, back at the Book Festival after an absence of two decades.

"We are also particularly pleased to be presenting a major international series, Nations Unlimited, looking at the shape of nations in the 21st century and planned in collaboration with fellow festivals in Norway and Sweden, in a pioneering first."

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