Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Irvine Welsh  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1958 in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Irvine Welsh came to town for Columbia College’s Story Week several years back, he later returned for a visiting professor tour and, somewhere in the process, met and married a young Chicagoan and made Chicago his home.

Biographical and Professional Information

Irvine is a contemporary Scottish novelist, best known for his novel Trainspotting. He has also written plays, screenplays, and directed several short films.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Acid House
ISBN: 0393312801

W. W. Norton & Company. 1995

Irvine Welsh's scintillating, disturbing, and altogether outrageous collection of stories―the basis for the 1998 cult movie directed by Paul McGuigan.

He is called "the Scottish Celine of the 1990s" (Guardian) and "a mad, postmodern Roald Dahl" (Weekend Scotsman). Using a range of approaches from bitter realism to demented fantasy, Irvine Welsh is able to evoke the essential humanity, well hidden as it is, of his generally depraved, lazy, manipulative, and vicious characters. He specializes particularly in cosmic reversals―God turn a hapless footballer into a fly

an acid head and a newborn infant exchange consciousnesses with sardonically unexpected results―always displaying a corrosive wit and a telling accuracy of language and detail. Irvine Welsh is one hilariously dangerous writer who always creates a sensation.

Trainspotting
ISBN: 0393314804

W. W. Norton & Company. 1996

Trainspotting is the novel that first launched Irvine Welsh's spectacular career―an authentic, unrelenting, and strangely exhilarating episodic group portrait of blasted lives.

It accomplished for its own time and place what Hubert Selby, Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn did for his. Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Seeker are as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and psychos as readers will ever encounter. Trainspotting was made into the 1996 cult film starring Ewan MacGregor and directed by Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave).

Marabou Stork Nightmares
ISBN: 0393315630

W. W. Norton & Company. 1997

"For anyone who gets high on language, this book is a fantastic trip...a real tour de force."―Madison Smartt Bell, Spin

The acclaimed author of the cult classics Trainspotting and The Acid House, Irvine Welsh has been hailed as "the best thing that has happened to British writing in a decade" (London Sunday Times). This audacious novel is a brilliant (and literal) head trip of a book that brings us into the wildly active, albeit coma-beset, mind of Roy Strang, whose hallucinatory quest to eradicate the evil predator/scavenger marabou stork keeps being interrupted by grisly memories of the social and family dysfunction that brought him to this state. It is the sort of lethally funny cocktail of pathos, violence, and outrageous hilarity that only Irvine Welsh can pull off.

Glue
ISBN: 0393322157

W. W. Norton & Company. 2001

An epic novel about the bonds of friendship from the author of Trainspotting.

The story of four boys growing up in the Edinburgh projects, Glue is about the loyalties, the experiences, and the secrets that hold friends together through three decades. The boys become men: Juice Terry, the work-shy fanny-merchant, with corkscrew curls and sticky fingers

Billy the boxer, driven, controlled, playing to his strengths

Carl, the Milky Bar Kid, drifting along to his own soundtrack

and the doomed Gally, exceedingly thin-skinned and vulnerable to catastrophe at every turn. We follow their lives from the seventies into the new century―from punk to techno, from speed to E. Their mutual loyalty is fused in street morality: Back up your mates, don't hit women, and, most important, never snitch―on anyone. Glue has the Irvine Welsh trademarks―crackling dialogue, scabrous set pieces, and black, black humor―but it is also a grown-up book about growing up―about the way we live our lives, and what happens to us when things become unstuck. "Stocked with his usual quirky, sympathetic characters, this rollicking new tale sparkles with the writer's trademark satiric wit. Its heft and narrative breadth should convince any remaining skeptics that Welsh―now effectively the grand old man of in-your-face Scottish fiction―is a writer to be taken seriously."―Publishers Weekly starred review

Porno (Norton Paperback)
ISBN: 0393324508

W. W. Norton & Company. 2003

The Trainspotting lads are back...and in worse shape than ever.

In the last gasp of youth, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson is back in Edinburgh. He taps into one last great scam: directing and producing a porn film. To make it work, he needs bedfellows: the lovely Nikki Fuller-Smith, a student with ambition, ego, and troubles to rival his own

old pal Mark Renton

and a motley crew that includes the neighborhood's favorite ex-beverage salesman, "Juice" Terry.

In the world of Porno, however, even the cons are conned. Sick Boy and Renton jockey for top dog. The out-of-jail and in-for-revenge Begbie is on the loose. But it's the hapless, drug-addled Spud who may be spreading the most trouble.

Porno is a novel about the Trainspotting crew ten years further down the line: still scheming, still scamming, still fighting for the first-class seats as the train careens at high velocity with derailment looming around the next corner.

The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs: A Novel
ISBN: 0393329666

W. W. Norton & Company. 2007

"A family saga, a revenge fantasy, a Twilight Zone-esque parable, and, most importantly, a very fun read."

Entertainment Weekly

This story of two men locked in a war of wills that threatens their very existence is vintage Irvine Welsh. Troubled restaurant inspector Danny Skinner is on a quest to find the mysterious father his mother will not identify. Unraveling this hidden information is the key to understanding the crippling compulsions that threaten to wreck his young life. His ensuing journey takes him from the festival city of Edinburgh to the foodie city of San Francisco. But the hard-drinking, womanizing Skinner has a strange nemesis in the form of mild-mannered fellow inspector Brian Kibby. It is Skinner's unfathomable, obsessive hatred of Kibby that takes over everything, threatening to destroy not only Skinner and his mission but also those he loves most dearly. When Kibby contracts a horrific, undiagnosable illness, Skinner understands that his destiny is inextricably bound to that of his hated rival, and he is faced with a terrible dilemma. Irvine Welsh's work is a transgressive parable about the great obsessions of our time: food, sex, and celebrity.

If You Liked School, You'll Love Work
ISBN: 039333077X

W. W. Norton & Company. 2007

Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, is up to his old tricks with his new work of transgressive short fiction.

Irvine Welsh's first short-story collection since his debut work The Acid House presents five extraordinary stories, which remind us that he is a master of the short form, a brilliant storyteller, and―unarguably―one of today's funniest and most subversive writers. In "Rattlesnakes" three young Americans, lost in the desert, are accosted by two armed Mexicans. A Korean chef and a Chicago socialite find themselves connected through the disappearance of a pooch named Toto in "The D.O.G.S. of Lincoln Park." And in the title story, Mickey Baker―an ex-pat English bar owner living on the Costa Brava―tries to keep all of his balls in the air: maintaining his barmaid's weight at the sexual maximum, attending to the youthful Persephone, and dodging his ex-wife and Spanish gangsters.

In typically Welshian fashion, the characters and settings are anything but typical. These stories will make you laugh and gasp.

Reheated Cabbage: Tales of Chemical Degeneration
ISBN: 0393338029

W. W. Norton & Company. 2009

Never-collected tales, including outrageous early stories from the Trainspotting years, plus a raucous new novella.

Reheated Cabbage gathers stories showcasing Irvine Welsh’s trademark skills: vaulting imagination, brilliant vernacular ear, scabrous humor, and the ability to create some of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction. You can enjoy Christmas dinner with Begbie at his Ma’s and see how he greets his sister’s boyfriend and news of their engagement. You’ll discover in “The Rosewell Incident” why aliens speak hardcore Scots English and plan to put Midlothian roughs in charge of the planet. And you’ll be delighted to welcome back “Juice” Terry Lawson and now internationally famous DJ Carl Ewart, and watch them as they meet an old nemesis, retired schoolmaster Albert Black, under the strobe lights of a Miami Beach nightclub. These stories, most first published in small magazines and out-of-print anthologies, are all wildly offbeat and will delight both fans of and newcomers to Welsh’s world.

Crime: A Novel
ISBN: 039333550X

W. W. Norton & Company. 2009

“[An] inimitable combination of dark realism, satire and psychological insight . . . complicated, unsettling and at times beautiful."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

In the wake of a nasty child-murder case, Detective Ray Lennox of the Edinburgh PD has suffered a full-scale breakdown. He’s placed on leave for mental retuning and takes off for a few days of sun in Miami. From there, Crime becomes an unmistakably Welshian blend of the macabre and the psychologically astute, as Lennox faces a dwindling supply of antidepressants, a bridal-magazine-toting fiancée, and cokehappy locals who lead him back into old habits and leave him to care for a child. Is he really in the right shape to be playing knight-errant to a terrified ten-year-old girl? Will his best instincts and worst judgments get them both killed, or find him the redemption he seeks?

Skagboys
ISBN: 0393088731

W. W. Norton & Company. 2012

Prequel to the best-selling phenomenon Trainspotting, this exhilarating and moving novel shows how Welsh’s colorful miscreants first went wrong.

Marked by Irvine Welsh’s scabrous humor and raw Scottish vernacular, Skagboys transports us to 1980s Edinburgh, where the Trainspotting crew is just getting started. Mark Renton has it all: the first in his family to attend university, he has a pretty girlfriend and a great social life. But when economic uncertainties and family problems intervene, Rent succumbs to the defeatism―not to mention the drug use―that has taken hold in Edinburgh’s tougher quarters. His friends are responding according to personality. Laid off, Spud Murphy is paralyzed in the face of long-term unemployment. Sick Boy, supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, is scamming and hustling for money and drugs. And meanwhile, psycho Franco Begbie is scaring the hell out of everyone. Darkly humorous, Skagboys gives a gritty and gripping portrait of a time, not unlike ours, when money was scarce, unemployment was high, and drugs seemed the answer.

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins: A Novel
ISBN: 038553938X

Doubleday. 2015

The famed—some would say notorious—author of

Trainspotting

and many other brilliant offenses against common literary decency comes at last to America, with a dark and twisted tale of personal training and abject codependency in the fading glitter of Miami's South Beach, with a novel that asks the provocative question: Why

would

you want to be "the Biggest Loser" anyway?

When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, disarms an apparently crazed gunman chasing two frightened homeless men along a deserted causeway at night, the police and the breaking-news cameras are not far behind. Within hours, Lucy becomes a hero. Her celebrity is short-lived, though: the "crazed gunman," turns out to be a victim of child sexual abuse and the two men are serial pedophiles.

The solitary eye-witness, the depressed and overweight Lena Sorenson, thrilled by Lucy's heroism and decisiveness, becomes obsessed with the trainer and enrolls as a client at her Bodysculpt gym. It quickly becomes clear that Lena is more interested in Lucy's body than her own. Then, when one of the pedophiles she allowed to escape carries out a heinous sex attack, Lucy's transition from hero to villain is complete. When Lucy imprisons Lena, and can't stop thinking about the sex lives of Siamese twins, the real problems start. In Lucy and Lena, Irvine Welsh has created two of his most memorable female protagonists, and one of the most bizarre, sadomasochistic folie à deux in contemporary fiction.

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

taps into two great obsessions of our time—how we look and where we live—and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.

A Decent Ride: A Novel
ISBN: 0385540892

Doubleday. 2016

Irvine Welsh returns to Edinburgh, the home of Trainspotting and so many of his novels since, with a new novel featuring one of his most iconic and beloved characters—'Juice' Terry Lawson—that's thick on the Scottish brogue, heavy on the filth and masterful in its comedic timing.

A Decent Ride sees Irvine Welsh back in Edinburgh, this time with one of his most compelling and popular characters front and center: the rampaging force of nature that is 'Juice' Terry Lawson, first seen in Glue.

Juice is a man who contains multitudes: he's a top shagger, drug-dealing, gonzo pornstar and taxi driver. As we ride along in Juice's cab through the depraved streets of Edinburgh, Juice encounters a series of charmingly filthy characters, each of whom present their own, uh, unique challenges. Has he finally met his match in Hurricane 'Bawbag'? Can he discover the fate of the missing beauty, Jinty Magdalen, and keep her idiot-savant lover, the man-child Wee Jonty, out of prison? Will he find out the real motives of unscrupulous American businessman and reality-TV star, Ronald Checker? And, crucially, will Juice be able to negotiate life after a terrible event robs him of his sexual virility, and can a new fascination for the game of golf help him to live without . . .

a decent ride? (The meaning of the title is starting to sink in now, huh?). So buckle your seatbelts and prepare for one unforgettable ride.