Trainspotting tops list of Scottish novels

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 17th September 2013. The international premiere of 'Sunshine On Leith' was held at Edinburgh's Vue Omni cinema. Pictured is writer Irvine Welsh.
Picture by JANE BARLOW. 17th September 2013. The international premiere of 'Sunshine On Leith' was held at Edinburgh's Vue Omni cinema. Pictured is writer Irvine Welsh.

The favourite Scottish novel of the past 50 years is ‘Trainspotting’ by Irvine Welsh according to a new pool conducted as part of Book Week Scotland.

It set out to find the country’s top books of the past 50 years, and over 8800 votes were cast to give Welsh’s ground-breaking novel about drug addiction in Edinburgh top spot.

Book lovers from around the globe took part with votes coming in from 57 different countries including the USA, Ethiopia, Iceland and South Korea.

Welsh said he was flattered by the announcement, and added: ‘‘I don’t know if Trainspotting is the best Scottish book - I’m far from convinced it’s my own best book, but I’m obviously flattered just to be on that list of great novels with those amazing writers, especially when I consider some of the brilliant books and my personal favourites that never made it onto the list.”

Welsh pipped Alasdair Gray’s Lanark to top spot with Ian Rankin’s ‘Black And Blue’ taking third place.

The top five also included fellow Fifer, the late Ian Banks’ ‘The Bridge’ and Christopher Brookmyre’s ‘‘One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night’

The top ten was then made up with ‘Excession’ by Iain M Banks; ‘Morvern Callar’ by Alan Warner; ‘44 Scotland Street; by Alexander McCall Smith; ‘The Trick Is To Keep Breathing’ by Janice Galloway; and ‘Docherty’ by William McIlvanney.

The poll was launched by Scottish Book Trust as part of Book Week Scotland 2013 which is currently underway with a number of events across the Kingdom.

Members of the public were invited to choose from a shortlist of 50 titles compiled by author and literary critic Stuart Kelly in collaboration with Book Trust staff.

Commenting on the results, Stuart said: “Crime, comedy, science fiction, the avant-garde - the public vote has reinforced the diversity of contemporary Scottish writing. My sole regret is that we have only one woman on the list - that said, The Trick is to Keep Breathing is indubitably a contemporary classic.”

Marc Lambert, chief executive of Scottish Book Trust, said: “It’s great to be able to announce the top 10 Scottish novels of the last 50 years during Book Week Scotland, our national celebration of books and reading. This is a fascinating list combining traditional classics with modern greats, with every book an absolute gem.

‘‘Aside from acting as a barometer of Scottish reading tastes, the list has amply fulfilled its purpose of generating an exciting debate and discussion around great Scottish novels. Trainspotting is undoubtedly deserving of the top spot. It remains a brilliant read, and its publication was a key cultural moment in the history of the Scottish novel.”

The authors were also delighted to make the top ten.

Alasdair Gray said: “My reaction to your news is delighted astonishment that Lanark has been judged more popular than a book by Ian Rankin, and only regret that this wonderful honour had no money attached to it.”

And Ian Rankin added: “Such an honour to find myself in this particular top 10, especially with a book I regard with great fondness. I’m sure the results will be pored over and discussed, but what really matters is that books are still read with a passion. I feel sure this will be the case in another 50 years’ time!’’

More information about the vote and the top 10 novels can be found at