Irvine Welsh

Illustrated by Nicole Rifkin

Introduced by John Sutherland

Choose Trainspotting, the explosive debut of author Irvine Welsh, as Folio celebrates the 30th anniversary of this cult classic with the first illustrated edition ever published.

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‘The voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent ... Welsh writes with a skill, wit and compassion that amounts to genius.’
  1. The Sunday Times

Choose the book that outraged the critics. Choose the literary phenomenon that defined a generation. Choose Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. Introduced by critic John Sutherland, the savage picaresque of junkie Mark Renton returns to raise hell in celebration of the novel’s 30th anniversary with its first ever illustrated edition. With kaleidoscopic artwork by award-winning artist Nicole Rifkin, Folio invites you to revisit the book that nailed the hedonistic nineties, that exposed the poetry of a forgotten underclass and inspired the classic 1996 movie. Fearless, anarchic, honest, Trainspotting is a British cultural landmark and remains one of the greatest cult reads of all time. 

Bound in printed and blocked cloth 

Set in Maxime with Futura as display 

400 pages 

Frontispiece plus 5 colour illustrations 

Die-cut slipcase 

9 ½˝ x 6 ¼˝

The international reach of Trainspotting’s cultural influence is evident in the remarkable illustrations by New York artist Nicole Rifkin. Combining graphic-novel style panels, needle-fine linework and sour, muted colours, these remarkable pieces provide the perfect palette for the first ever illustrated edition of Welsh’s groundbreaking debut. The edition’s acid-yellow binding offers a sensitive portrait of Renton, also drawn by Rifkin. The book itself is housed in a Caledonian blue slipcase with mismatched train-track lines. Tapping a vein somewhere between the dour Scottish realism of James Kelman and the stoned lyricism of Burroughs and Bukowski, Welsh weaves his own sour melody of language, moral outrage, and gallows humour. Introduced by academic and Guardian columnist John Sutherland, this landmark Folio edition deserves pride of place in any counterculture library.

‘One of the easiest and most common mistakes made about Trainspotting is people regarding it as a work of literary primitivism. It is, in fact, a highly crafted work of fiction.’
  1. John Sutherland, from his introduction

The story of a gang of noxious young males communicating in their own vernacular, Trainspotting was inspired by Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, relocating that sci-fi dystopia to the slums of Northern Edinburgh. Mark Renton is our wry antihero, a terminally jobless twenty-something struggling to escape a Black Hole of heroin addiction orbited by a cast of equally vivid characters: the lecherous Sick Boy, alcoholic maniac Francis Begbie, and the gang’s furtive whipping-boy, Spud. Trainspotting was a word-of-mouth sensation upon publication in 1993, though its unique dialect, humour, and equitable stance on drug use baffled and offended the literary community in equal measure. Though set in the late eighties, the book tapped into the nascent rave culture that was emerging in the early nineties. Readers were hooked by the furious authenticity that Welsh drew from his own former drug addiction and his upbringing in the “schemes” of Edinburgh. Welsh is just as interested in playing with linguistics, as well as themes of alienation and redemption as Renton pursues a darkly impulsive quest for his next fix. 

Born in Edinburgh in 1958, Irvine Welsh trained as an electrician before moving to London where he studied computer science. He later returned to Edinburgh and took an MBA at Heriot-Watt University. A writer, screenwriter, journalist and DJ, Welsh’s first novel, Trainspotting (1993) remains his most successful work and was adapted for the screen by Danny Boyle. Other books include Marabou Stalk Nightmares (1995), Glue (2001) and Porno (2002); a sequel to Trainspotting.

Nicole Rifkin is an award-winning Canadian-American illustrator based in New York. She graduated from the Pratt Institute with a BFA in Communications Design (Illustration) and has an MFA in Illustration from SVA.  She is the recipient of many awards that span American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators and The Art Directors Club. Her ubiquitous work adorns covers of The New Yorker and other editorial publications of note, albums, music posters, murals, ad campaigns, and comic books, instantly recognisable for its limited palette, and figurative, rich narrative.

John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London, and has taught in universities worldwide. Author of over 20 books, his interest lies in the areas of Victorian fiction, the history of publishing and 20th-century fiction. His latest books are: Love, Sex, Death and Words: Tales from a Year in Literature (2010), written with Stephen Fender; Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 465 Lives (2011); and A Little History of Literature (2013). He was chairman of the 2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and regularly writes for the Guardian.


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