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Under the Frog

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  1,122 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog follows the adventures of two young Hungarian basketball players through the turbulent years between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. In this spirited indictment of totalitarianism, the two improbable heroes, Pataki and Gyuri, travel the length and breadth of Hungary in an epic quest for food, lo ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 3rd 2001 by Picador (first published October 1st 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,833)
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Jeannine
It is a good book in some respects but it is an extremely difficult read. The writer is telling us the story for 250 pages. Virtually no dialogue. Metaphor after metaphor, he must have spent a month rehearsing one sentence. So many times I found myself stuck having to re-read because I had no idea what was going on or what time period we were in. The chapter headings are worthless unless you are in the last chapter. This is because he switches gears so many times in a chapter you can't remember ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
ATTENTION: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN A LONG AND UNNECESSARY PREAMBLE

I used to play basketball in the same team for around 10 years in a row from childhood to the mid-teens. Those were glorious days.

My team was named Polisportiva Lame (quite funny for English speaking ears, isn't it?) also known as Pol.Lame (pollame meaning "poultry" in Italian) and we were very consistent players.
Years passed by and we were always standing at the bottom of our league.
Nevertheless, I was passionate or masochist e
...more
Kwoomac
Before traveling to Budapest, I wanted to read something that took place there. This was good choice. The story takes place in communist Hungary, culminating with the uprising in October, 1956. Hungary was invaded by Germany during WWII and then in 1948 was handed over to Russia. The main character, Gyuri Fischer, is a basketball player on a traveling team in 1956. He, along with the other players, are on the payroll of the Hungarian Railway. They are required to work very little and spend all t ...more
Claire
So I'm convinced that the poor title choice and even worse cover design are the reason this book has received so little attention. Probably one of the best I've read this year--I found it more or less at random because I was taking a trip to Budapest and wanted to get a picture of the culture and history before I went. The book follows the lives of two friends in Budapest from just after the second world war until the 1956 revolution when thousands of Hungarians fought communist power and succee ...more
Vit Babenco
“Does it help being the clever pig on the way to the abattoir?”
Totalitarian regimes comprise those who serve them and those who hate them. Those who serve try to destroy those who hate. But when the number of those who hate amounts to the critical mass there is an explosion.
“I expect some of you will be committing suicide. Indeed I will consider my work a failure if some of you turds don’t try a bit of wrist-slashing. And if you don’t do the job properly, we’re willing to help; attempted suicide
...more
Hubert
Jul 18, 2010 Hubert rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone.
Shelves: humor, history, fiction
I finally finished this book after multiple stop and starts over the course of a year. Why all the ADD? Fischer has a knack for throwing in a side reference or vignette in a heartbeat, expounding on that reference for a few pages or more, and then going back to the original topic at the last part of the chapter. This makes for a temporally disjointed experience.

The story starts a few years before the Hungarian Revolution of '56, then Fischer moves to backtracks to the past, and then returns to
...more
Kevin Tole
Having read and reread this many times now there are still passages I cannot read without ending up on the floor in fits of laughter - like the time of Pataki's arrest by the AVO and the story that follows, and the eating contest. This is a well written and very funny book. Its a pity that Mr. Fischer's subsequent books have failed to live up to the promise of this one. The characters that Fischer invents through the book are a real delight and all with distinct charm and the capacity for the de ...more
Wyatt
Basketball, nudism, communism...Like one of Fischer's characters says "Life is too short for good books...one should only read great books (p. 78)". This is a great book. Instantly one of my favorites of all time.

Under the Frog is about a basketball team in Hungary in the late 1950's/ early 1960's. It has a certain level of familiar Eastern European absurdity to it, it never lets you down with it's wit, and it gives a nice interesting slice of history.

Tibor's use of language is impressive too.
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Tibor Fischer's "Under the Frog" was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize (the best original novel written in the English language) in 1993. Indeed it is an extraordinary book - powerful, often tragic and hysterically funny. It is advertised as a "black comedy" - well, maybe; life in general might be viewed as a black comedy, considering the futility of human efforts in the face of the guaranteed unhappy ending. Salman Rushdie offers a blurb for the cover: "A delicate, seriocomic treasur ...more
Bob
I didn't stumble across this 2001 novel until 2014, but after reading "Under the Frog" I'm anxious to see what Tibor Fischer has written since because his style is so unique. I wonder, too, if he can write at least one page that doesn't have a sexual reference.
The book's alternating-era approach — disconcerting at first — adds an element of drama to the story of these basketball-playing friends during the post-World War II communist era in Hungary, all leading up to the revolt of 1956.
As one of
...more
Tanvir Muntasim
Although I read it years ago, it turned me into a staunch fan of Tibor Fischer and his inimitable sense of humor. I tracked down each of his book and read them, but this remains to be his best work to date. If you want to read acid sharp humor poking fun at the communist regime, this is the definitive book to read.
Kate
One of the few books I've read more than 3 times. I've called people up just to read them sentences out of this book. Reading this will make you sympathetic towards Hungarians and basketball players. All of TF's other fiction is rotten, so don't bother with his subsequent books.
Mac
From the table of contents, it's clear this story will progress toward the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and there is a lot that's appealing about the story. The absurdity of the communist rule is wittily played out through humor, the black comedy of the subtitle. Even though the writing is sometimes overdone (e.g., obscure words and strange metaphors), the narrator's arch tone works for me. And for all it's absurdity, the book creates a sense of being in on an important historical moment.

But th
...more
Leif Erik
One of the funniest and heartbreaking books I've ever read. If you're up on your mid-century mid-euro history you'll be enthralled. The brutal suppression of the '56 Hungarian uprising has never been told in a more humorous vein.
James Wallman
Funniest book I've ever read. Funnier - even, if it really is possible - than Catch-22.
Dennis
This is not so much a novel as a series of anecdotes told over time so the story doesn't really flow, it jumps, which often left me wondering how the protagonist got from point A to point B. There was a lot of background to each story in order to suggest how each of the characters arrived but only the minimum which saved a lot of time in details like "plot development" but I felt like characters were just taken on and off the shelf as necessary.
That said, the anecdotes were mostly hilarious and
...more
Tanvir Muntasim
Spectacular debut novel from Fischer, with the unusual backdrop of Hungary in the 60's, with his unique humor that makes this a memorable read.
Marty
So. Good. Hilarious novel about Hungarian basketball players before and during the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Mike Butler
Read seven or eight years ago and still stands out as one of the best books I've ever read...
Maria Longley
I tried to read this about two years ago and never got much further than the first chapter. However, I decided to pick this up recently and really enjoyed this book. It's funny and savage, a Rabelaisian black comedy. The use of language is interesting and quirky (in a good way) and there are many memorable descriptions, characters and metaphors in Under the Frog which not all are for the faint-hearted. I know next to nothing about Hungary or its history and the book is set in the time of the sec ...more
Lisetta
Questo romanzo come una finestra aperta, che ci permette di guardare verso un paese troppo spesso ignorato dai libri di storia, per lasciare spazio alle grandi nazioni prime donne della seconda guerra mondiale. DellUngheria e degli eventi nefasti e violenti che la travolsero a partire dal 1940 fino al 1956, ne so poco e niente.

Ecco allora che termini stringati,come:

Armata rossa

Invasione sovietica

Repubblica Popolare d'Ungheria

La Rivoluzione ungherese del 1956

Si trasformano in fatti, in gesti, i
...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
sotto il giogo dell'ideologia




"Quando sentì alla radio la notizia della morte di Stalin, Gyuri si stava
lavando i capelli. A parte la sensazione di intenso benessere che lo
pervase, la prima cosa che gli venne in mente fu se l'intero sistema sarebbe
crollato prima che lui sostenesse l'esame di marxismo-leninismo che doveva
dare la settimana successiva. Poteva contare sulla caduta del comunismo o
doveva proprio mettersi a studiare Marx?
La seconda fu come meglio mancare di rispetto nei dieci minuti di s
...more
Paul
Nov 10, 2013 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
À la fois intéressant et décevant, ce roman de Toby Fischer. Je lui ai donné ****, mais si j'avais à lui attribuer une note, elle serait d'environ 7,8 sur 10.

À coup sûr, la plume de Fischer est vive et fort drôle. J'ai ri par moment à gorge déployée. Fischer sait rendre le ridicule et l'absurde d'une situation tragique, a le sens de la chute et possède un vocabulaire riche. Pour ce qui est de l'intrigue, du fil conducteur? Outre le contexte historique de la Hongrie communiste, dont le point culm
...more
Emily
May 04, 2007 Emily rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Guys who like crude humor and Magyar history

I read this book in small chunks and considered giving up several times. Tibor Fischer sets his novel in Soviet era Hungary, the story culminating with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The protagonist, Gyuri Fischer (ahem, cough cough, did Jonathan Safran Foer read this book? The character-named-for-the-author is only one reason I pose the question . . . more on that later if I feel up to it), is stumbling through life, his biggest goal avoiding more compulsory army service. He's on a basketbal
...more
David Whittlestone
This is a series of anecdotes strung together by a narrative through to the Hungary Uprising of 1956, The anecdotes distract from the main track of the story; indeed I thought it was a series of historical youthful snapshots until half-way through. Nevertheless, it is an interesting story and one built up deceptively to give the reader a fairly good idea of life before and leading up to the Uprising and indeed underlaying it .

Reading the story is difficult not only because of the interrupting a
...more
Brendan
Quite difficult to read. Drifted along in its own way at times reminding me of 'Catch 22', but not of the same calibre. It was hard to follow and several times I almost gave up. However in the last few chapters it finally seemed to come together. There were quite a few laughable parts, but they did seem that there was more work put into them than the storyline.
Tony Perez-Giese
Hands down, one of my favorite books of all time. I don't know what ever happened to Tibor Fischer the author (his other novel and a collection of short stories published a decade ago didn't come close to the genius of "Frog"), but if this is the only good thing he ever wrote, then he can die a happy man. Brilliant, funny and sad.
Federico Comesaña
Sencillamente, espectacular! Es el tercer libro que leo de este escritor británico y ya forma parte del podio de mi biblioteca. Su sentido del humor ácido y oscuro no tiene comparación, y viene contenido en una prosa riquísima e inteligentemente construida para provocar, por igual, la risa y la reflexión. En particular, Under the Frog (Bajo el culo del sapo, en su edición traducida) es una novela de humor negro que transcurre desde el fin de la Segunda Guerra Mundial hasta mediados de la década ...more
Amy
This book cover is awful and would lead one to believe that the story is about basketball. In fact, there is very little basketball, however, the main characters are on a team, but are also all soldiers. Accidentally, I have been on a Hungarian kick, and much like the last book, there is a lot of sex (or at least pining over ladies and talking about conquests).
Stephen Griffith
I enjoyed this a great deal because it was so full of deadpan Eastern European humor but Tibor Fischer writes in a very unusual style. I didn't find it as irritating as what a number of poor writers do so much as it being strangely awkwardly structured with unusual, bordering on being incorrect, use of words. Too bad because the characters were all entertaining and vividly drawn and doubtlessly the progress of the narrative was historically accurate. Maybe he needed a better editor although it w ...more
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Tibor Fischer is a British novelist and short story writer. In 1993 he was selected by the influential literary magazine Granta as one of the 20 best young British writers.

Fischer's parents were Hungarian basketball players, who fled Hungary in 1956. The bloody 1956 revolution, and his father's background, informed Fischer's debut novel Under the Frog, a Rabelaisian yarn about a Hungarian basketba
...more
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