It ranks alongside Haggis and Balamory as one of the finest exports to come from north of the border, now Irvine Welsh‘s seminal tale of drugged debauchery, Trainspotting, has been voted as Scotland’s number one book of the last fifty years.
The author’s debut novel received the prestigious honour as part of the Book Week Scotland celebrations. Many, of course, are more familiar with Danny Boyle‘s cinematic version, but the influence of the book itself cannot be overlooked, as it scooped a whopping ten percent of the votes which were cast by readers worldwide.
Coincidentally, 2013 marks 20 years since Trainspotting first hit the shelves. Welsh himself commented: “I don’t know if Trainspotting is the best Scottish book – I’m far from convinced it’s my own best book.” Even if you did write the thing yourself though, you can’t argue with the public. Trainspotting was awarded a total of 833 votes, beating Alasdair Gray‘s Lanark into second place by 83.
Only last month, Welsh revealed that he had written a short story for The Big Issue, and newspapers around the world, about Begbie, the infamous psycho of the story who was portrayed in the film by Robert Carlyle. It tells of how he has left his violent past well and truly behind him and found peace through art and romance. This was an idea of Welsh’s to help the homeless at Christmas, so perhaps this latest accolade could be sent from above?!
Divine intervention or not, the plaudits for Trainspotting, along with the other fifty books that were shortlisted, have proved that Scottish literature is alive and kicking. Author and critic Stuart Kelly beamed: “Crime, comedy, science-fiction, the avant-garde – the public has reinforced the diversity of contemporary Scottish Writing.”
With so much happening in Scotland in 2014, it’s not as if it needs putting on the map, but this is a timely reminder of a modern Caledonian classic.