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Filth [Paperback]

Irvine Welsh
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 1998
With the festive season almost upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is winding down at work and gearing up socially - kicking off Christmas with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are irritating flies in the ointment, though, including a missing wife, a nagging cocaine habit, a dramatic deterioration in his genital health, a string of increasingly demanding extra-marital affairs. The last thing he needs is a messy murder to solve. Still it will mean plenty of overtime, a chance to stitch up some colleagues and finally clinch the promotion he craves. But as Bruce spirals through the lower reaches of degradation and evil, he encounters opposition - in the form of truth and ethical conscience - from the most unexpected quarter of all: his anus. In Bruce Robertson, Welsh has created one of the most corrupt, misanthropic characters in contemporary fiction , and has written a dark, disturbing and very funny novel about sleaze, power, and the abuse of everything. At last, a novel that lives up to its name. NOTE:The book is meant to have tapeworm effect as it's meant to reflect the tapeworm of his guts.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318685
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.1 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,242,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Irvine Welsh was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Raised in the tenement homes of Leith, the prefabs in West Pilton and the maisonettes in Muirhouse, he attended Ainslie Park Secondary School. At sixteen, he left education and took on various jobs, and eventually moved to London in the seventies. There he dabbled with the property market while spending his free time exploring the London punk scene. He then moved back to Edinburgh to study an MBA.

Back home, and inspired by the nineties rave scene, he was fortunate enough to run into some fascinating characters whom he immortalised in his diary - and, later, in the pages of Trainspotting. At first dismissed for its unmarketable content, Trainspotting shot Welsh to fame, precipitated further by the release of the film, by Danny Boyle, three years later.

Since then he has written eight other works of fiction. He currently lives in Chicago.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Irvine Welsh has produced more than his share of revolting characters in his short yet spectacular writing career, but in the creation of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson he has surpassed himself. The protagonist of Filth is, both personally and professionally, utterly corrupt; a thief, drug user, misogynist and racist, with standards of appearance and personal hygiene that are simply beyond belief. It goes without saying that his wife and children have left him but, oddly, he still has few drinking mates, and even some of the women he so hideously abuses are still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. "The undeniable sexuality which is part and parcel of the complete dominance over another human being", opines the viciously selfish Robertson, is just part of what makes, "poliswork such a satisfying career." But, strangely, as we chart his inevitable decline...from what is admittedly a very low baseline--a solid, almost conventional, underlying morality begins to assert itself. Amid the degradation we come across a hint of reason as Welsh's stunningly direct dialogue and hideously imaginative plot combine in a thrilling, undeniably unsettling novel. --Nick Wroe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Welsh firing on all cylinders... The best thing he has done since Trainspotting" (Sunday Times)

"It is surely a remarkable cultural moment when a reviewer is offered cash in a bar for an advance copy of a literary novel... Filth is a masterpiece...squarely in the classic line of classic scottish writing" (Independent)

"Things are going well for Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson. Promotion is in the offing, he's got all the booze and drugs he needs, and his various plots aimed at friends and colleagues seem to be working out. Robertson, compulsive and repulsive by turns, has only two problems. One is a case of racially-motivated murder on his patch. The other is that there's a nasty tapeworm in his gut and it seems intent on having its say... A brutally sustained achievement" (Evening Standard)

"We're used to tough cops with non-PC attitudes, but Welsh trumps the lot with his evil-scheming, ball-scratching, foul-mouthed hero-with-haemorrhoids... Welsh's jet-black comedy at once entertains and appals... Gloriously grotesque" (Esquire)

"A snarling epic of a book...ugly, devastatingly funny, unremittingly nasty and pulls no punches... Don't dare miss it" (Scotsman) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Hideous 13 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Irivine Welsh has long specialised in presenting the very dregs of humanity to us along with their stories, but in his loathsome police detective Bruce Robertson, he gives us a character so depraved, so utterly unpleasant, that the real story here is the way in which Welsh manages the impossible: sympathy for the (almost literal) devil. The standard Welsh narrative crossovers are to be found; characters from his other novels pop up here and there and that trademark Edinburgh vernacular is the dominant voice once again. This novel is still, in my view, his stand-out work; not something to be said lightly given the sheer quality of his other novels. The reader will find themself in Robertson's head on an appalling journey into everything frightening and despicable about human beings and plumbing the darkest, most fathomless depths of nastiness. Robertson careers around the Scottish capital powered by drugs, pornography, alcohol and barely controlled hatred of his colleagues and friends, ostensibly pursuing a murder case, but in reality, degenerating into a psychological lagoon of horror. Very few characters in modern fiction stay with one long after they have shut the book. This one (and the gradually revealed voice within him) most certainly does. Read 'Filth' and drink in the mastery of one of the finest writers around, but expect to be infected by his creation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously Disgusting ! 14 Feb 2000
By A Customer
The book was purchased and read, with Guiness, on a sleepless overnight ferry crossing from Rotterdam. My visit to Amsterdam (with good lady wife + 2 kiddies) was not at all like Robbo's. The book shouted out at me from the shelf (amid Dick Francis etc.), 'Do you belive in ESP', by The Buzzcocks springs to mind, 'I do and I'm trying to get through to you'. This'll out the schizos. Repulse at Robbo's behaviour and personal hygiene (I swear there was a scratch 'n' sniff for his flannels in mine), whilst secretly envying his manipulative power over people. The night shift at my work definitely invented the photocopying game, but unfortunately leave around the evidence. The counter-narrative by the Tapeworm may not be original, but works well. This was my first Welsh book, and his black humour definitely works better in print.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars first but not last 17 April 2010
This is my first Irvine Welsh novel. The direct use of Scottish accent to text can be challenging to begin with - but you do get used to it. Then you are into the roller coaster, no holds barred parallel world that Welsh describes. In this novel, we are presented with DS Bruce Robertson. Outwardly one of the lads, hard working and a policeman of experience. Inside, he is a xenophobic, homophobic, philandering, alcoholic, hygiene challenged, parasite hosting, small minded miscreant. And yet he makes you smile :) This book turns your stomach, whilst simultanously urging you to read more. Welsh manages to cover most depraved elements of humanity within the pages whilst weaving what is possibly a sad story.

If you have the strength of character, single-mindedness and iron will - read and enjoy. How does he come up wth this stuff?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sick Irvine Welsh character... 1 July 2008
Both Bruce Robertson and the tapeworm are sick, classic Irvine Welsh characters. Like a lot of Welsh characters, Robertson shows signs of good as well as evil, and you're never quite sure whether he's at heart a good guy just misdirected - that's what makes the book interesting. There's some really disgusting, hilarious moments in the book that only Welsh could conjure up. A lot of other reviews suggest that the book might be too long, without direction and meandering through the middle part. I'll leave that up to the reader to decide. But I really would recommend finishing the book. The last half a dozen chapters really hit you hard and they'll leave you thinking about it for a few days.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ball-Twisting, Rollarcoaster Ride! 21 Jan 2003
By Steve F
From the very first page, Mr Welsh hooked me and dragged me into the sick and twisted world of D. S. Bruce Robertson. And I enjoyed every minute of it! Dodgy Robertson represents the evil we all think is out there... somewhere, and his level of behaviour is in the extreme or not at all! I wondered if this story is purely a work of fiction or perhaps drawn from Irvine's personal experiences and observations with the constabulary. If it's the latter, then I'm glad we live in different parts of the world. A feast of explicit sex, violence and drug use. Delicious... I'm going out to buy the rest of Irvine Welsh's books!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOVEL WAS BARRY, LIKESAY! 17 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I have just finished re-reading "Filth", and I don't know how it managed to do it, but it is an even better read the second time around. I decided to read the novel, this time, paying particular attention to the theme of 'confidence' that runs throughout it, and the manners in which we gain and lose confidence. bruce is a "polis", an establishment which we trust implicitly, yet he has no faith in his co-workers and the 'spastic' uniformed officers. he goes to prostitutes but has confidence he hasn't caught anything. he has confidence carole will return. he knows he will get his promotion. the growing worm depends on him. he knows shirley is his whenever he wants. he considers himself to be great in bed because lennox wasn't. yet, in bruce, we find a man who has no confidence in life running its natural course. he tries to eliminate his promotional opponents, to make it easier for him to get the job. he enlarges the photocopier while he takes a photocopy of 'himself'. he has no confidence in dr. rossi. no confidence in toal and his hollywood-bound script...
this book is marvellous. a policeman we term as belonging to the filth; as a reader, we see him as filth; he sees all those around him as filth; and, within him, the worm is filth. and, deep down, he knows that he is filth like everyone else, for, as he tells us frequently throughout, "same rules apply".
a book at the same time worthy and entirely unworthy of its name. must read!
edward joseph canning
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Filth
Oh I hated Bruce Robertson & this book. I hated the misogynistic, racist, offensive everything about this book. Read more
Published 2 days ago by kirsty
4.0 out of 5 stars But i'm not faint hearted i'm quite like Bruce Robertson at time (only...
Again very heavy going but definitley worth a read. Compare it very much to Marabou Stork Nightmares. Very very very dark and not for the faint hearted. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Mr. AJ Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Good holiday reading
Another IW classic
Published 1 month ago by Maxizmum
4.0 out of 5 stars there is a crime to solve which comes 87th best to everything else...
This book does exactly as it says on the cover, Filth. The blurb on the back reads "Suitable only for persons of a strong constituton. Read more
Published 1 month ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Same Rules Apply...
Bought this because i loved the film. The book is as disturbingly hilarious as the film. A great story which is so believable. I love it! Same Rules Apply...
Published 1 month ago by James
4.0 out of 5 stars same rules apply
Poor deluded Bruce Robertson coming tae gripes wae his demons, top patter Edinburgh polis at there best, can't wait too see the film
Published 2 months ago by johnbhoy18
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and yet, an excellent read.
Loved this book. Typical Irvine Welsh style, written with an accent. I just could not put the book down. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zelda
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and miss
It was ok, a bit odd with a second narrative, had it on the kindle and had to enlarge the wording to read it, not too much happened and I will probably forget all about it in a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Deb Parry
3.0 out of 5 stars A step too far
Just a little to crude to be enjoyable.
It's not as good as train spotting. There are times when you actually feel physically sick by Bruce. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Laura Francies
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Got to 19% and had to give up. On several pages the text had shrunk to microscopic size and is covered by a cloud filled with "o"'s. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tjc
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