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Under the Frog: A Novel Paperback – November 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (November 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312278713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278717
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fischer's debut novel, about two young men who escape Communist Hungary to live a carefree live of sex and unemployment while being part of a traveling basketball team, was a Booker finalist.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

“A delicate, seriocomic treasure.”—Salman Rushdie

“Ferociously funny, bitterly sad, and perfectly paced.” —A.S. Byatt

"An audacious act of creativity....Of all the young novelists working today, Tibor Fischer may be the most adept at taking chances in his work."—The Nation

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant, haunting, truly memorable book.
David J. Gannon
The book is about communism and the attempted revolution in Hungary in 1956.
Félszemű Farkaskutya (Call me Wolfie)
A wonderful book you will read in a single sitting.
"saitchy"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on February 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Under the Frog is a novel about the oppression and evils of totalitarianism.
The book tracks the exploits of Pataki and Gyuri, members of Hungary's elite National Basketball team from the end of WW II to and through the Hungarian Uprising against the Soviet Union in the mid 1950's.
Ostensibly railway workers, the team travels the country, usually buck naked, in a specially constructed rail car, playing basketball, chasing girls and generally avoiding anything that looks like work while desperately striving to maintain their team membership, the only thing that keeps them from experiencing first hand the blight and depression that marks the plight of the common man in post war Hungary.
Biting, satirical, often hysterically funny, the book nevertheless searingly conveys the sense of deprivation and repression that gave rise to the uprising as well as the brutality and viciousness with which it was put down.
Fischer's international reputation was built on this novel, and deservedly so. It was one of the great novels of the Cold War era.
A brilliant, haunting, truly memorable book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deborah F Ridel on June 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is definately a "guy book". It covers a period of Hungarian history from the end of World War II up until the 1956 revolution as told by a group of basketball players. These boys spend lots of time talking about, dreaming, about, telling jokes about, or thinking about sex. Intertwined with this running theme is an interesting perspective on Hungarian though during the Soviet Occupation (just another in a series of defeats for the Hungarian army that as many characters echo, "...can't last forever."
Mr. Fischer's style is sometimes bold and explicit such as "Now, of course apart from the bad taste it would leave in his soul, his participaton in the Communist movement would be as welcome as a bonfire in an ammunition dump. He had as much chance of joing as a blue whale had, assuming it could make its way to Budapest." Other times, he has such a complicated sentence structure and compound adverbs and adjectives that it takes three times to read the sentence. Compounding that is a lack of clear plot. The story consists of chapter after chapter of vinettes flashing back and forth through the period. There are many references to figures and events in Hungarian history that are good to know about ahead of time in order to more fully enjoy the dialogue.
If you can get past all hat, there are many wonderful passages accurately depicting the Hungarian character and view of life such as Guryi's reaction to watching a girl jump the bridge into the Danube "there goes another one." Having lived in Hungary and experienced the culture, I never the less enjoyed the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Félszemű Farkaskutya (Call me Wolfie) on June 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I don't remember how I came across this book in the first place, but by the second page I was laughing out loud, read the whole thing in one sitting and immediately went back to the beginning and started reading again.
Why's it so good?
First of all, it's packed with Fischer's unique sense of humor. Read the first couple sample pages; if you're not laughing, you probably won't enjoy the rest of the book. The humor is black, definitely. But there's a good chance you'll be laughing HARD nonetheless. Pranks, absurd situations, physical comedy, and wicked wordplay rule the roost.
Second of all, it's dead serious. The book is about communism and the attempted revolution in Hungary in 1956. If you want to see the absurdity and insanity of the communist system as it looked from the inside at that time, Fischer delivers. It is fascinating, shocking, and it would be unbelievable if the author didn't make it so very believable.
I haven't seen anyone mention it, but Under the Frog reads a lot like Kurt Vonnegut's best work (Slaughterhouse V or Cat's Cradle). For me, though, Fischer's book has a lot more reread value -- neither the humor nor the horror has grown thin over the many times I've read it. Highest recommendation.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
One of the most stunning debuts ever, I think. For the last three years, I must have read this book at least three or four times - every year! It has black humour; a painfully accurate portrayal of adolescence's overwhelming urges, i.e. sex; and scalpel sharp observations about the essential absurdity that was life in a Soviet satellite at the height of the Stalinist era.
The (picaresque?)Gyuri, the devil-may-care Pataki, the once debonair Elek, the urbane Jesuit Ladanyi, and Gyuri's one-true-love Jadwiga - all take shape and form with Fischer's elegant turns of phrase and understated characterization. All in all - a superb book - I've used it whenever I ran out of gift ideas, and so far, no one's complaining!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
The cover inflates the basketball and minimizes the statue, but the novel itself's vice versa. Not that the statue stays maximized: the whole point of the climactic Hungarian 1956 revolt. Fischer's style I found appealing, even laugh-out-loud funny (and I don't often audibly guffaw while reading!). I read it for its depictions of 1940s-50's Budapest, and how ordinary folks tried to survive. Great tongue-in-cheek depictions of Party exhortations, an oddly appealing Jesuit, an honest romance and a lot of less lengthy couplings, and a meditation on courage amidst a world of betrayers. Managing to avoid cliche and to rather strive for the original phrase, Fischer's novel satisfies. I only wish there was a sequel.
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