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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Authors arrive for book festival
Ian Rankin
Edinburgh-based author Ian Rankin will attend the festival
A host of famous writers is descending on Edinburgh for the world's largest literary festival.

Best-selling children's author Jacqueline Wilson helped the event get under way on Saturday.

This year's Edinburgh International Book Festival is the biggest in its 23-year history, with 650 authors participating.

More than 40 countries will be represented and at least 200 Scottish writers will take part.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown and Alan Bennett are also due to appear at the festival on Saturday.

The 16-day programme features a world-first, with renowned authors Norman Mailer and Alice Munro taking part in their first public transatlantic interviews from their homes in the US and Canada.

'Political discussion'

There are also interviews and readings from Booker Prize-winning author Yann Martel, who wrote Life Of Pi, Edinburgh crime novelist Ian Rankin and On Chesil Beach author Ian McEwan, whose work is up for another Booker Prize.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond will also be interviewed later this week by the journalist and broadcaster Iain MacWhirter, as part of the festival.

A spokeswoman for the festival said: "We've always been a forum for political discussion so having the first minister is a real coup for us."

Jacqueline Wilson, who has sold more than 20 million books in the UK alone, has been meeting an audience of children and adults to explain where she gets her ideas from.

It is the first of two appearances the former Children's Laureate is making.

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

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