Trainspotting has topped a Scottish Book Trust poll to find the nation’s ten most popular novels from the past fifty years, beating competition from Alasdair Gray, Ian Rankin, Iain Banks, and William McIlvanney.
The online poll, part of Book Week Scotland 2013, invited book lovers from across the world to choose their favourites from a specially-selected shortlist of 50 titles, which were chosen “in an attempt to reflect the depth and breadth of the journey Scottish writing has taken over the last half century”.
Votes were cast from 57 countries, as far afield as Ethiopia and South Korea. The final results were:
- Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
- Lanark by Alasdair Gray
- Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
- The Bridge by Iain Banks
- One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre
- 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
- Docherty by William McIlvanney
Commenting on his novel’s victory, author Irvine Welsh said: “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 this list.”
Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, said the novel was “undoubtedly deserving of the top spot”, with its publication in 1993 being “a key cultural moment in the history of the Scottish novel”.
But literary critic Stuart Kelly, who compiled the shortlist for the poll, said he had “regret […] that we have only one woman on the list”. He added that Janice Galloway’s contribution “is indubitably a contemporary classic”.
The only author to appear twice in the list is the late Iain Banks, in one instance with his Iain M Banks pseudonym. Adele Hartley, who married Banks shortly before his death earlier this year, said: “Iain was always a huge fan of his fans and I think he’d have been very flattered by their support and delighted to be in such fine company.”
There are more details about the top ten novels and the voting process on the Scottish Book Trust’s website.