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Under the Frog: A Black Comedy [Paperback]

Tibor Fischer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 20 1998
Tibor Fischer's hilarious first novel follows the adventures of two young Hungarian basketball players through the turbulent years between the end of World War II and the revolution 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, lodging, and female companionship.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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.

Review

Tibor Fischer's hilarious first novel follows the adventures of two young Hungarian basketball players through the turbulent years between the end of World War II and the revolution 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, lodging, and female companionship. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A briliantly written, delicately scatological tale of growing up in the hazy world of tyranny. To the young men of this novel - players on a traveling basketball team in Hungary in the 1950s - life can be broken down into two important quests:
1) The quest to subvert as many of the rules of a Communist state as possible.
2)The quest to get laid.
A very, very funny and sad and fascinatnig novel.
-Dan Koi
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, haunting, truly memorable book. Feb. 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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5.0 out of 5 stars The truth will out Feb. 12 2001
Format:Paperback
A group of adolescent professional basketball players in soviet-controlled Hungary at the end of World War II. The pranks they play are different from what we expect nowadays. They are directed against the totalitarian regime, the all-encompassing graft, the lack of freedom. Some of these boys were soldiers towards the end of the war, first killing Russians, then killing Germans. There are no surprises left for them except freedom. Rather be a street sweeper in London than a big shot in Hungary. Is this book funny? Yes - with the blackest humor you are likely to see in a long time. Is it a satire? No - Every last sentence is the absolute truth, exactly as it happened so many years ago. I strongly suspect that this is the author's autobiography. He was there and has lived through it all.
In many ways, it is a very disturbing book. It shows that just a few people with machine guns can - and will - rule a whole country. It is a lesson to be remembered. Even when freedom finally comes, it only lasts a few days. Soviet tanks roll right over it.
Read it, think about it, remember it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous debut novel from Tibor Fischer Oct. 19 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Under The Frog", shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize in 1992, is a marvelous first novel from Tibor Fischer. Crackling with a wicked humour that's uniquely his own, Fischer paints a none-too- pretty picture of life in 50s Hungary by following the antics and exploits of two national basketball players (Pataki and Gyuri) as they traipse around the country playing matches against amateur basketball teams to qualify for privileges and a better life. Through their eyes, we observe a Hungary struggling to come to terms with their new masters who fought on their side in WW2 against the Germans, the widespread petty corruption permeating their society, and the sordid lives of the helpless masses. Despite the seriousness of the novel's theme, Fischer maintains a delightfully light and humourous touch throughout, making its message all the more effective. The silliness of the pranks of our two basketball players only heightens our sense of the pitiful state of their existence. It's as if they need this conscious distraction to remind themselves they're alive (ie, it's the only way they know how to survive and keep their sanity). The novel's ending is heartrending as our two protagonists each find their own way forward. This is one of the best books of its kind I've read. It's funny and serious at the same time and Tibor Fischer is a terrific writer. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly not under powered Aug. 9 2000
Format:Paperback
From the dark days at the end of World War Two, through to perhaps even darker days at the time of the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian uprising. Under The Frog is a deeply moving whilst seriously funny book. Seen mainly through the eyes of a basketball playing, perenial under achiever. Under The Frog effectively shows how laughter can rise out of tradegy, and tradegy out of absurbity. Under the frog for me remains one the bitterst denouciations of a totalitarian regime and the evils that it can generate. All that the hero wishes for is freedom. Better a street sweeper in Stockholm than a general in Hungary. This is Fischer's first book and acts as an excellent introduction into the unique prose style. I would heartily recommend the equal excellent 'Thought Gang' and 'Don't buy this if your stupid'
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully poignant and truly Hungarian book April 14 2001
Format:Paperback
While the author, Tibor Fischer, was born in England, and only spent a brief period living in Hungary during the 1980's, he manages to capture the essence of Hungarians in his darkly comical novel about young, restless basketball players. The over-the-top actions of the narrator and his friends reflect the restrictive nature of Communist Hungary. Building up to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the book stays away from dry history and focuses on the more human aspects of being young. The title, "Under the Frog" is part of a colorful idiomatic Hungarian metaphor used in the book, and brings attention to the uniquely Hungarian nature of this work. It is a pleasant read, and is definitely not just for those of Hungarian origin or for those who like basketball.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Peace Frog
After falling head-over-heels in love with Fischer's "The Thought Gang", with its inept band of philosopher thieves, and having mixed feelings for his "The Collector... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2001 by Mike Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonder if non-Hungarians would appreciate it as much
Let's start with the title: 'Under the Frog' (or, in Hungarian 'A beka segge alat') may be totally meaningless to those who have no knowledge of the Hungarian language. Read more
Published on June 18 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars grabs you by the balls and forces you to read
Tibor Fischer (not to be confused with Tibor Kalman) is a horse-fellating genius. This book, while certainly no Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, is wonderful bedside reading, and is... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2001 by Moe Hong
5.0 out of 5 stars Basketball and Revolution
A brilliant debut novel which, to coin a cliche, will make you laugh hysterically before making yoiu weep uncontrollably. Read more
Published on May 25 2000 by "saitchy"
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning debut!
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! Read more
Published on Nov. 30 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Under the Frog is a "must read"
Under the Frog is beautifully written. Fischer's dry wit achieves just the right balance between the dark and humourous themes of the novel. The story-telling is excellent! Read more
Published on May 22 1998
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