22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Irvine Welsh

Portrait Irvine Welsh
© Hartwig Klappert

Irvine Welsh was born in Leith near Edinburgh in 1958. The boy with the working class background began training as a television repairman at age 16. After suffering an electric shock he gave up his career and left Edinburgh for London, where he joined the punk scene. He played guitar and sang in various bands. During the building boom of the 1980s he refurbished run-down apartments and sold them at a profit. At the same time he studied computer science. Eventually he had had enough of the English metropolis and returned to his hometown. There he worked with the local planning authority and received an MBA at Heriot-Watt University. He began writing short stories in 1991, which were published by »New Writing Scotland« and other journals.
The literary magazine »Rebel Inc.« published previews of his first novel, »Trainspotting«, which hit the market in 1993 and made Welsh famous overnight. The portrait of a group of junkies in Edinburgh in the 1980s was peppered with dark humour, which the literary scene of the time found hard to digest. However the controversy did not spoil the novel’s success. A theatre adaptation was followed by Danny Boyle’s film, which gained Welsh international acclaim. His later works, including six novels, several collections of short stories and novellas, dramas and screenplays, also focus on social problems. They are all written in a darkly humorous, entertaining and at the same time incisive style. A racist, corrupt Scottish policeman is the protagonist of Welsh’s third novel »Filth« (1998). »Porno« (2002) deals with the sex industry. He writes about football hooligans and nightclubs, the housing shortage, class barriers, suppressed homosexuality, exploitation and sexual abuse, as for example in his recent book »Crime« (2008). Welsh’s literary oeuvre reminds us in its themes and language of William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and other American writers. His focus, however, has always been Scotland after 1960, which is reflected in his keen use of Scottish colloquialisms.
Irvine Welsh is »one of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit and force«, says his colleague Nick Hornby. The author’s works have featured on the shortlists of the Booker Prize and the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award. For »Trainspotting« he received the Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Irvine Welsh lives in Edinburgh.