Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ugly” as Want to Read:
The Ugly
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

The Ugly

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a 300-pound boulder-throwing mountain man from Siberia whose tribal homeland is stolen by an American lawyer out to build a butterfly conservatory for wealthy tourists. In order to restore his people’s land and honor, Muzhduk must travel to Harvard Law School to learn how to throw words instead of boulders. His anarchic adventures span contin ...more
Paperback, 365 pages
Published September 7th 2016 by Brooklyn Arts Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ugly, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Ugly

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  243 ratings  ·  53 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Ugly
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting book, though my enjoyment of it seems to have decreased proportionately to how far into it I progressed. Don't get me wrong, it's quite good, thoroughly original and very intelligent, it overwhelming after a while. There was so much philosophy, meditation on legal concepts, tribal African politics, academic satire...that it managed at times to overpower the plot itself. And the plot itself is great...Muzhduk The Ugli The Fourth (priceless already, right) is a Siberian Slov ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
I was puzzled by this book. At the start, it was really interesting and it seemed to be going somewhere. The story is engaging up to maybe 60%, but afterwards... I just kept skipping. All the talk about god knows what, you start wondering whether you're either just you stupid for the book, or maybe there is little point of them talking about the weird lawyer philosophy, maybe? The format switches between two perspectives in time every several pages - it also switches between first and third pers ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read an advance copy, and the first thing I noticed is that nearly all of the blurbs from other authors talk about how funny this book is. They are right. The Ugly is hilarious, in the sort of dry dark humor way that ends up leaving the world slightly tilted by the time you’re finished.

If Kafka and Musil threw boulders at each other while Monty Python watched, all in a One-L Harvard Law classroom (or Siberia, the Sahara desert, Everest, or any of the other places the wild plot goes), you’d get
Ben Baxter
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent novel in the style of Joseph Heller (Catch 22), using absurdity and the vision of an "Outsider" in Ugli to critique culture and thinking. Genuinely funny throughout, parts towards the end can be a bit "dense", both in purpose and prose, but really enjoyable nonetheless.
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar is novel which I discovered through Shelf Awareness. The cover had me interested, but it had to be the synopsis which had me convinced that I wanted to read it. I feel like our capital and Westerner ways make up thinking we have the right to impose on other tribal and indigenous areas because we have our reasons. It does not matter that it doesn’t match up with theirs. As someone who strongly believes this, I wanted to read this novel and find out more about how it ...more
Andrew Case
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the honor of reading The Ugly pre-publication and it is an extraordinary accomplishment. The story is an epic satire not only of American legal education and the American legal system, but of modernity itself. It is easy to say that we have become complacent by living in an ordered world that we had no role in creating, or that we are out of touch with our animal instincts, but it is very hard to tell us this lesson--and so much more--by making us laugh, think, feel, and weep.

The closest c
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A full on satire of contemporary law as mesmerizing and complex as something lost from Foster Wallace, yet as light in tone as "A Confederacy of Dunces."
I DNF'd this about halfway through. I just couldn't do it. A boulder-throwing, unschooled, 300 pound Slovakian, who grew up in a totally-off-the-fucking-grid secluded village governed by their own private rules, is pissed that an American lawyer tricked him into selling them their homeland and WALKS his huge, hairy hiney ALL THE WAY TO HARVARD, yes the college, where he apparently out-tests all other applicants because of course he's an IDIOT SAVANT, and is awarded entrance through some funky bi ...more
Michael McLellan
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Ugly is reminiscent of fairy tales I read as a child: You can’t take it seriously, yet you must take it seriously. Loaded with irony, absurdity, and plenty of opportunities for a laugh, Alexander Boldizar’s novel follows protagonist Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth’s unlikely journey from a boulder-throwing Siberian villager to a word-slinging Harvard law student (yep, see absurdity).
I thought the first half of the book was exceptional, but the story’s grip loosened slightly during the second ha
Grahame Shannon
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly is a serious piece of satire. It begins in a Siberian/Slovak village where men gain power in boulder throwing contests. Muzhduk the Ugly the Fourth walks from Siberia to Boston to study law so he can learn to throw words instead of boulders. The story proceeds through Harvard Law School and Africa, alternating in time and place.

Warning: some parts are heavy reading, particularly some "scholarly" arguments at Harvard. Be prepared to use a Dictionary in a few places. I understand why some
The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar makes for an interesting read. Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a absolutely huge mountain man from Siberia who decides to tackle the last mountain, "Harvard Law School" in order to claim back what a dishonest American lawyer has stolen. Muzduk will use words as weapons instead of large boulders.
What follows is a hilarious journey that takes Muzhduk from his home in the mountains to Africa to the "wilds" of an American campus. The book has a very dry humor but I did
Carol Glassman
Sep 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This definitely qualifies as one of the books that I finished reading only to figure out why I disliked it so much.
Fairy tale or nightmare? Maybe both.
When I read two reviews of it I could only assume the critics were close relatives or friends.
I would advise anyone to read it hand in hand with a guide, if one exists. The author is described as one who has held a wide variety of occupations, but unlike one as talented and genuinely humorous as Nelson deMille, those occupations do not seem to h
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazing-reads
Wow. This one is really unique and brilliant. The son of a lost Slovak tribe's chief is tasked with "conquering the mountain" of Harvard Law School after a lawyer shows up in their idyllic, boulder-throwing village and tricks them out of their sovereignty. I have a soft spot for exceptionally bright protagonists and Muzhduk was a surprising one, possessing the shape and ethos of a mountain. I also love outsider interpretations of American culture that seem bizarre on the surface, but in actualit ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars: The Catch-22-esque humor starts to dissipate as the book goes on and things get increasingly philosophical, absurd, and somewhat confusing, or at least unnecessarily dense. I still enjoyed it and am glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd rank it as a favorite or be eager to re-read it (not the whole thing anyway... certain passages are excellent). Part of the discomfort in reviewing this was because after I started it, I immediately recommended it to quite a few friends and in one case ...more
Sage Adderley-Knox
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am confident to say that I have never read anything like The Ugly. It is fantasy mashed with history and then mixed with the modern world. It is funny, entertaining, and packed with adventure.

Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is an awesome character. I was constantly amused by how he named things and people, and his descriptions were simple, yet his story was deep. He is on his way from his Siberian town to Harvard to study words. On the way, he has one unbelievable experience after another.

If you
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A delightful satirical romp, Boldizar's prose is sparse, easily absorbed and big on ideas. This is probably the best book I'll read this year.
Mike Compton
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Conan the Barbarian attempts to solve the Riddle of Steel at Harvard Law School in a story plotted by David Foster Wallace and written by John Kennedy Toole.
Jackie Bateman
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A multi-layered highbrow book with muscle and brawn. I got completely immersed in the world of Muzhduk the Ugli - his wit, his shoulders, and his quirky ways. I wasn’t expecting it to be so funny, but parts are Monty Python-esque. There are many layers to this story, and by the end of it I felt like I’d achieved something great or climbed a mountain in Siberia. Wonderful read.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading it, but it quickly gripped me. It is really well written and takes the reader on the journey along with the protagonist, Muzhduk. It flips between Muzhduk's time at Harvard and his travels in Africa. If you think the politics of Harvard are difficult to follow, his journey across Africa is almost unfathomable!

Although I enjoyed this book, some of the concepts and satire were lost o
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly is amazing! Seriously, this is not a book you come across everyday. A 300-pound boulder thrower who goes to Harvard law to fight for his homeland? That's epically epic. The book is full of giggles and chuckles. It seriously was great to read after a long day. Super funny. The Ugly is totally a book that I'm surprised I enjoyed, it seems out there, which it is, but it's great! The writing is awesome, so is the plot. I love how Muzhduk is so headstrong and just fantastic. He is one of tho ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-August.

The Ugly is the heavy, coarse, yet determined voyage of Muzhduk, a nearly legendary man living and going to college among city dwellers while remaining in a small-village mindset.
Ryan Farnsworth
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Clever giant. Sometimes I feel a kinship with the boulder throwing giants....there is an honor in being intransigent! Well done Mr Boldizar.
Roger Smitter
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who is considering law school.
This novel is a very challenging read. Perhaps the key idea to take way from the novel is the opening scene. The major character, Muzhduk, must catch a very large boulder thrown in order to retain his role of tribal leader somewhere in Central Asia. Muzhduk not only catches the enormous rock but also throws it back, killing his challenger.

Quickly, the tribe and Muzhduk encounter a more deadly threat: A lawyer representing a corporation makes claims that would evict the clan. Muzhduk quickly dis
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Not bad, but genuine post-modern novels were so much better. Those Americans who just "discovered" the vein and believe it's a Slovakian thing are beyond any help. It's American, folks. Ever heard of Barth, Barthelme, Coover, Vonnegut or Thomas Pynchon?
Martin Ott
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is big, bold, and smartly written, a literary novel with surreal and fantastical moments wrapped around a larger than life character who can tell us much about our own messy current state of affairs in the world. Can't wait to see this writer's next book.
Cathy Geagan
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a thoroughly original story, intelligent and quite funny in places, and Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a charismatic lead character. I very much enjoyed the first half of the book, as Muzhduk begins his journey to reach Harvard to learn to fling words instead of boulders and win back his ancestral home which has literally been sold from under him. It satirises modernity, masculinity, education (and the American legal system in particular).

However the further I progressed through the book
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think the reviews which stated the first 1/3 of the book was brilliant were spot on. I also feel the critiques of the remaining 2/3 were valid as well. I finished, and enjoyed the book, but could absolutely understand the dnf's. The commentary of the absurdity of "law" was engaging and interesting to me. However, towards the end the material vs. immaterial aspects of reality were muddy, confusing, and honestly sometimes uninteresting. The book seemed to sacrifice its extremely promising storyl ...more
Daniel Clark
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was throughly captivated by this book from the opening chapter to the last.
Brims with intelligent wit and absurd humour. I would highly recommend this Book.
MaryAnn Clarke
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Well I'm finally finished The Ugly. Which is, apparently, more than some reviewers can say. I won't say it wasn't challenging, but I read every last word. There were a lot of them. Many of which I didn't understand and likely never will. But then I don't have a Harvard law degree, nor have I read much existential philosophy. I can honestly say, this was the most challenging book I've ever read. I loved it. It charmed and baffled me. Frustrated me. Humbled me. Made me laugh out loud. I think it c ...more
Michael Kerr
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a challenging, and original read. Not to mention loopy loopy loopy. I'm a bit hesitant to describe the plot as it is so absurd - but I have to say the craziness is pretty captivating. I got a bit bogged down in the second half when the narrative becomes more and more philosophical, still, a worthwhile read by strong and creative voice.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
It's Not Just a B...: The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar 5 17 Aug 30, 2016 03:17AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate
  • Edinburgh Midnight (Ian Hamilton Mysteries #3)
  • The White Devil's Daughters: The Fight Against Slavery in San Francisco's Chinatown
  • Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table
  • Season One (Wizenard, #2)
  • Training Camp I: El libro de Rain (Wizenard, #1A)
  • Training Camp II: El libro de Twig (Wizenard, #1B)
  • Training Camp IV: El libro de Peño (Wizenard, #1D)
  • Planet Song
  • Then One Day
  • Weather
  • The Great Fire
  • FULL VOICE Teacher Guide: Private and small Group Voice Lessons for Singers 5 to 12 Years Old
  • Challenge Accepted!
  • Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure
  • State of Wonder
  • October 1964
  • Windblowne
See similar books…
Alexander Boldizar was the first post-independence Slovak citizen to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Since then, he has been an art gallery director in Bali, an attorney in San Francisco and Prague, a pseudo-geisha in Japan, a hermit in Tennessee, a paleontologist in the Sahara, a porter in the High Arctic, a police-abuse watchdog in New York City, an editor and art cr ...more

Related Articles

It’s rare that a debut novel gets the kind of love and attention that Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, which spanned centuries and continents, received. Her...
78 likes · 13 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »