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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 10:35 GMT
Top authors unite for 'Book Aid'
Authors Salman Rushdie (left) and Gunter Grass
Authors Salman Rushdie (left) and Gunter Grass are taking part
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is to launch a new collection of stories donated by leading authors to help combat the fight against Aids.

Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and John Updike are among the writers whose short stories appear in Telling Tales.

The project was put together by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer and will raise money for a South African Aids charity.

It will be launched by Mr Annan in New York on Tuesday, ahead of World Aids Day on Wednesday.

The 21 authors taking part include five Nobel prize-winners, with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gunter Grass, Woody Allen, Arthur Miller, Hanif Kureshi and Paul Theroux on the list.

Nadine Gordimer
I wanted these to be beautiful stories celebrating life, which is what people suffering with HIV and Aids are deprived of
Nadine Gordimer
Gordimer said she felt guilty the literary world had not been as involved in raising charity funds as music stars.

"I began to feel rather guilty on behalf of myself as a writer and other writers because the musicians were having these big gigs and beautiful concerts in aid of people suffering from HIV and Aids," she said.

"In other words, they were giving away talent, which for us, as artists, is the best thing we have - the most precious thing."

Stars including Bono, Peter Gabriel and Beyonce Knowles appeared at an Aids charity concert in Cape Town last year, and a new Band Aid single has just been released.

Telling Tales will be published in 11 languages and all proceeds will go towards South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, which has campaigned to get free drugs for millions living with HIV and Aids.

More than 17 million Africans have died from Aids and another 25 million are infected with the HIV virus, according to lobby group Data.

The only condition Gordimer gave to her fellow authors was that their stories could not be about Aids.

"I wanted these to be beautiful stories celebrating life, which is what people suffering with HIV and Aids are deprived of - the fullness of life," she said.

  • Nadine Gordimer will be on Talking Point at 1330 GMT on Wednesday on the BBC News website, BBC World and BBC World Service Radio.

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