The Blade Artist

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The Blade Artist
The Blade Artist.jpg
cover of first edition
AuthorIrvine Welsh
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherJonathan Cape
Publication date
April 7, 2016

The Blade Artist is a 2016 novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. The story follows on from Welsh's previous novels, Trainspotting and Porno, catching up with Begbie's past and present.


Begbie, going by the name of Jim Francis, is now a Scottish expatriate artist in California and returns to Scotland for his murdered son's funeral.[1] His wife Melanie slowly comes to terms with Jim's dark past.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The novel was reviewed in many newspapers. It received mostly good reviews.

In a review for The Daily Telegraph, Orlando Bird called it "lean, clever and propulsive".[2] Meanwhile, Hannah McGill of The Scotsman commended Welsh's perceptive description of the "divisions that rend families, and the minor lies and delusions that sustain relationships"[3]

Writing for The London Magazine, Erik Martiny called it a "resourceful, engagingly lively novel", but stressed that its "main interest derives less from its detective novel scenario than from Welsh’s ability to explore his protagonist’s inner struggle to contain the beast within."[4] In the Oxonian Review, Callum Seddon suggested the novel was "a take on the established trope of ‘the double’ in Scottish literature".[5] Meanwhile, Sunil Badami of The Australian assessed that the novel was "lean and purposeful", and a quick read.[6]

Reviewing it for The Guardian, Sarah Diturn suggested the characters were "unconvincing".[7] She added, "As detective fiction it’s shakily assembled, as a horror novel it can’t outpace cinematic torture porn, and as social realism it routinely sends its own plausibility up in smoke."[7]


  1. ^ a b "The Blade Artist". Penguin Books. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  2. ^ Bird, Orlando (April 8, 2016). "The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh: a lean thriller about Trainspotting's Begbie". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  3. ^ McGill, Hannah (April 2, 2016). "Book review: The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh". The Scotsman. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Martiny, Erik (April 4, 2016). "The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh". The London Magazine. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  5. ^ Seddon, Callum (April 27, 2016). "The Blade Artist". The Oxonian Review. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  6. ^ Badami, Sunil (April 30, 2016). "Irvine Welsh back with the bams in The Blade Artist". The Australian. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Ditum, Sarah (April 7, 2016). "The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh review – a troublesome follow-up to Trainspotting". The Guardian. Retrieved May 3, 2016.