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Under the Frog

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,253 Ratings  ·  92 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 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,096)
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Jeannine
Feb 26, 2010 Jeannine rated it liked it
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
Oct 12, 2010 Kwoomac rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2008 Claire rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 31, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
“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
Alex Sarll
'Under a frog's arse, down a coal-mine' - the Hungarian phrase denoting the absolute nadir. And even in that nation's long and fairly inglorious history (the genius of Hungarian armies for getting wiped out is a frequent motif here), an apt description for the period this novel covers, from the bruising end of the Second World War up to freedom's brief flowering in 1956. The half-despairing, half-optimistic refrain "This can't go on much longer" is another running joke; alas, it does. And it's a ...more
Hubert
Jul 18, 2010 Hubert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone.
Shelves: fiction, history, humor
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
Dennis
Apr 24, 2015 Dennis rated it really liked it
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
Wyatt
Jun 24, 2009 Wyatt rated it it was amazing
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
May 23, 2015 Lukasz Pruski rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 23, 2014 Bob rated it liked it
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
Richard Moss
Read this for my book group, so not an author I was familiar with.

There's a lot to like here. The book is genuinely funny, offering dry, gallows humour about the early years of Communist Hungary from the end of the Second World War to the 1956 uprising.

The final chapter, which covers the events of 1956, is poignant and effective, but I just wish the rest of the novel lived up to that standard.

Either deliberately or accidentally, Fischer bewilders with a stream of characters and continued digress
...more
Alana
Aug 24, 2015 Alana rated it really liked it
A densely written and plotted book about two Hungarian basketball players from the end of WWII to the Hungarian Revolution. The book is a dark comedy setting it's sights on the absurdity of living under a communist regime. The title comes from the Hungarian phrase to be lower than a frog's ass in a coal mine...as low as a person can go.

The book is so immersive into Hungarian culture, at times it felt like I was ready a translation (It's not. It was written in English). The author takes pains to
...more
Tanvir Muntasim
Aug 08, 2011 Tanvir Muntasim rated it really liked it
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
Apr 03, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2014 Mac rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2014 James Wallman rated it it was amazing
Funniest book I've ever read. Funnier - even, if it really is possible - than Catch-22.
Tanvir Muntasim
Aug 08, 2011 Tanvir Muntasim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2011 Marty rated it it was amazing
So. Good. Hilarious novel about Hungarian basketball players before and during the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Mike Butler
Oct 25, 2010 Mike Butler rated it it was amazing
Read seven or eight years ago and still stands out as one of the best books I've ever read...
Maria Longley
Apr 17, 2014 Maria Longley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads, ma, 2014
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 really liked it
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 it was ok
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
Jul 13, 2015 David Whittlestone rated it really liked it
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
Michael Moseley
Aug 17, 2015 Michael Moseley rated it liked it
Again it was good to read this book during a trip though Europe including Budapest. We have all forgotten the darkness of the post war Soviet domination of eastern Europe and the suffering of so many people, we hope it is better now but are we really sure. Some very funny lines in this book Tibor Fischer is a good writer who has managed to capture a lot of the pointlessness of communist rule and the irreverence most people felt for their leaders.
Brendan
May 23, 2015 Brendan rated it it was ok
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.
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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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“This was surely the real boon of a religious upbringing: it gave you a number to ring in emergencies, which was some consolation, even if no one answered.” 0 likes
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