Irvine Welsh on Africa
Irvine Welsh grew up in Leith, Scotland. The son of working class parents, he spent his childhood in government housing, a milieu he gave voice to in his hugely popular novel and subsequent film, Trainspotting. The book was an international success and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Welsh moved to London in his twenties and played in local punk bands but returned to Edinburgh in the late-80s. Drawing inspiration from the the rave culture there, he began writing seriously and submitting to literary journals. After Trainspotting, he published Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, The Acid House and The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs. His books’ themes range from the Scottish identity, sectarianism, classism, immigration, unemployment, AIDS and drug use. Recent works are The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006), a play, Babylon Heights (2006), written with Dean Cavanagh, and If You Liked School You'll Love Work (2007). His latest novel, Crime, was published in 2008. He has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and currently divides his time between Miami, Chicago, Dublin and London.
Irvine Welsh: It’s tragic that when you look at what’s happening in India and in China, the economic growth they have had. That hasn’t happened in Africa, and because of all the the political stuff and it’s a shame that, again, it seems to have be the [poorer nation] and being left behind and it’s particularly sort of galling and somewhere like Darfur which I kind of went there four years ago with the Daily Telegraph. We just kind of beat the New York Times by a day to get in there first. And you see that then I had to go…
I wrote a piece of it in the telegraph and I went and all these TV shows in Britain saying that these things have to happen to to sort of to avert this kind of tragedy, and it was… And nothing did nothing has and it’s just it just seems it got worse and worse and worse and a couple, a year ago, it just sort of kicked up again. People were saying, “Oh, this is terrible. This is terrible.”
And then it was kind of quiet again and you knew that nothing’s really been resolved and that people were still going through the same kind of misery there. And I’m sure in a couple of years’ time it would kick off again, and they’ll say this tragedy has to be stopped. It’s got worse and worse and worse, and again, nothing would be done. It’s just so soul destroying that.
We’re just, the way we react to these kind of things is we get pumped up and then we forget about it and get into a comfort zone again. And it’s like, there’s certain things that have to happen there to sort out this crisis, and the world community has to take responsibility for this.
I’ve been to Sudan a couple of times. I’ve been… The first time I went was, the second we went to [IB], the first time was to Southern Sudan, but the SPLE, the rebel forces who we were fighting against the [current] government, and one of the nice things, actually, is that conflict is, seems to be being resolved now. This massively improved in the South. But, unfortunately, in West, it’s as bad as ever with the Darfur situation.
Recorded on: September 8, 2008
Irvine Welsh talks about compassion fatigue.
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