Books invade club culture

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IRVINE WELSH, the author of Trainspotting, is to take literature into nightclubs in an Arts Council-backed tour to encourage new readers.

The tour will take 10 young writers headed by Welsh into clubs in Leeds, Manchester, London and Birmingham as part of a move to establish new audiences for the arts.

Each author, chosen to represent a cross-section of the cultural community, is being commissioned to write a short new work about Britain today for the project, which is receiving pounds 40,000 of Arts Council funding. The aim is to challenge the traditional "wine and cheese" image of literary events.

Tamara Smith, the Arts Council's literature officer, said: "We wanted to do something to bring quality literature to new audiences - getting the kind of people who go to the cinema and nightclubs but who wouldn't go to a literature festival.

"People may come [to this] because of Irvine Welsh, but they may discover other writers."

Arthrob, a body which experimented with readings in clubs in protest at the banning of raves in the early Nineties, is organising the tour under the theme "Defining the Nation". It takes place in June.

Ernesto Leal, 34, its director, said the idea was similar to events his Chilean parents had been involved in during the Sixties "when people like [the poet] Pablo Neruda and musicians went out to the countryside politicising people".

Welsh, whose novel of the Edinburgh drugs culture became a best-seller, said the UK was a multicultural society and it would be good if art, and particularly writing, addressed that.

"It would be better if, say for example, black and working-class people's narratives were given greater exposure, rather than just a bit of earthy dialogue for the titillation or amusement of the posh," he said.

"You always want people to read more books, particularly those by yourself and people whose work you like. They tend to be under-endorsed by newspapers who suck up to the public school / Granta / Groucho / Oxbridge crew who churn out the same shite all the time."

Other writers in the tour include Ben Richards, Dave Barbe, John McCabe, Dirk Robertson, Miranda Sawyer and Biyi Bandele.

At a recent lecture, Helena Kennedy QC said her sister, a head teacher, found Trainspotting a "godsend" in persuading adolescent boys to read.