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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Edinburgh launches book festival
JK Rowling
JK Rowling will read from the latest Harry Potter book
Some of the biggest names in contemporary literature are taking part in The Edinburgh Book Festival which launches on Saturday.

Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, and Harry Potter creator JK Rowling are among speakers appearing at the event.

The book festival is run alongside the Edinburgh Fringe festival which attracts thousands to the city.

Tony Parsons, Louis de Bernieres and Alex Garland have also been booked.

Organisers said more than 500 authors were taking part in 650 events around the city, aimed at readers of all ages.

Festival director Catherine Lockerbie said: "We offer the greatest living writers and thinkers alongside brand new talent.

"This glorious carnival is a place to talk as well as listen, to make your voice heard and to meet like minds and make new journeys."

Scotland's own Liz Lockhead kicked off the festival with a reading.

Oppressed writers

Nobel laureate Morrison will give an Amnesty International lecture, drawing on her writing about black women and slavery.

Also joining the Amnesty International debate will be Scottish authors Muriel Gray, Iain Banks, Lord Melvyn Bragg and Julian Barnes who will be reading the work of oppressed writers, under the banner Imprisoned Writers.

Rowling will be giving a reading on Sunday from the latest Harry Potter novel at an event for fans in the city where she began writing about the young wizard.

The festival, which runs until 30 August, will also see Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and former MI5 chief Stella Rimington making personal appearances to talk about their writing.

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