One of the literary world’s rising stars in detective fiction has spoken of his “contempt” for fellow Scots author Irvine Welsh, branding him a “travesty for Scotland”, it emerged today.
Alexander McCall Smith, who created the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, said Welsh’s fiction presented a portrait of Scottish “miserabilism”.
In an interview with a South African newspaper, he urged publishers to reject “aggressive, vulgar” authors, in a reference to the creator of Trainspotting.
“I’ve got no time for that. I’ve got complete contempt for that. I feel that writing is a moral act,” he told the South African Sunday Times when asked about his views on Welsh.
“I feel that those who portray an aggressive, vulgar, debased attitude towards life are conniving in that life, and I think publishers should reject them.
“I think Irvine Welsh has been a travesty for Scotland. It portrays a notion of Scottish miserabilism. But most people in Scotland aren’t like that . . . They don’t behave like that.”
Irvine Welsh’s best-selling iconic novel, Trainspotting, which portrayed a gritty demi-monde of heroin addiction, violence and petty crime in Edinburgh, was hailed as a watershed in Scottish fiction.
McCall Smith also criticised D B C Pierre’s Booker Prize-winning novel Vernon God Little for its liberal use of expletives.
The Professor of Medical Law at Edinburgh University said that he could never allow any of his own characters to use profane language.
“No! No! No! Because It’s an act of verbal permissiveness and sexual aggression. I will not do it and I’ve got no time for it. It sounds terribly pompous but it’s true,” he said.
McCall Smith’s books feature Precious Ramotswe, a Botswanan private detective, who relies on good humour and common sense to solve her cases, providing a positive, upbeat image of Africa.
Worldwide sales of the books – which count US First Lady Laura Bush as a fan - have recently soared past the three million mark.
The novels were first published in 1988 by Polygon, a small Edinburgh-based publisher, after being rejected by Canongate.