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Under the Frog

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  987 ratings  ·  64 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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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
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
Lorenzo Berardi

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
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
Basketball, nudism, communism...Like one of Fischer's characters says "Life is too short for good 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. Dell���Ungheria 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,...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
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
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
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
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
I read this book so long ago I don't really remember much about it, except that I didn't like it. I think I was too young and I definitely didn't know enough about post-WW2 Eastern Europe to clearly understand the context of the novel. Perhaps a second read at some point might help.
Jul 11, 2014 Patricia added it
Shelves: abandoned
Very well written and funny for a while, but I just couldn't see myself reading an entire book about the wild and crazy shenanigans of teenaged boys. Booze and sex, booze and sex: they only go so far!
Steve Tinter
Funny and exposes the 70 year absurdity of communism. How people still believe in that rubbish ideology still baffles me.
Johanna Breen
This book had a few problems reeling me in as it's very picaresque, particularly at the beginning. However, every time I picked it up there were humorous anecdotes and observations about the perversity of life in Hungary - first in WWII and then in the early years of communism and leading up to the 1956 revolution. Fischer manages the almighty trick of shocking you with the horror of it all while simultaneously guffawing up your sleeve with laughter. Some of the more sexist comments made by the...more
I struggled through the first few pages and almost gave up. worth persevering though. savage satire with lots of wit and underlying tragedy.
Maria Grazia
Per sopravvivere alla guerra e alla dittatura con tutte le proprie facoltà mentali intatte occorrono disincanto, pigrizia, lucida visione delle cose, ma soprattutto un umorismo fulminante e nerissimo che consenta di mantenere tutte le vicende al proprio posto e nelle adeguate proporzioni, in modo da non farsi sopraffare dagli avvenimenti. Ma tutto questo può funzionare fino a quando lo status quo non viene mantenuto, diversamente, quando si assapora un po' di libertà, si finisce sopraffatti dall...more
Cristian Keller
Non male.
Sia piacevole da leggere che storicamente interessante.
Ali Milan
An all-time favorite
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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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