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Irvine Welsh: I've written better books than 'Trainspotting'

The Scottish author tells 'Books of My Life' about the book he wishes he'd written and why 'Trainspotting' is not his best novel

There are some people you interview who just go through the motions. Irvine Welsh is not one of these people. You never quite know what the Trainspotting author is about to say next.

This made for a lively episode of Books of My Life, a new podcast from The National, in which Welsh spoke candidly about growing up in working class Scotland, his problems with addiction and even his continued efforts to make a hit record. As if 11 novels and four short story collections isn’t enough!

At one point I asked Welsh which book he wished he’d written and he suggested Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. There’s a certain financial logic to this but it’s not quite what I had expected.

Welsh will always be defined by Trainspotting. His debut novel, published in 1993, rocked the foundations of the literary world. It was a novel like no other: gritty and feral but immensely funny and touching, too. It went stratospheric when Danny Boyle directed an Academy Award-nominated adaptation, starring Ewan McGregor.

So here’s another surprise: Welsh doesn’t believe Trainspotting is his best novel. That accolade is shared between Marabou Stork Nightmares (1995) and Glue (2001). “In their own way, they’re stronger books than Trainspotting,” says Welsh.

I won’t spoil things by revealing the things Welsh would take to a desert island but needless to say, it’s a shock.

This was undoubtedly one of the most amusing episodes of Books of My Life to record. Irvine Welsh is a true original.

Subscribe to Books of My Life through your favourite podcasting app or listen via the website: thenational.ae/podcasts/books-of-my-life

Updated: December 11, 2019 04:43 PM

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