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Under the Frog Paperback – 1 Oct 1993

25 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Oct 1993
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014023196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140231960
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,547,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"I began Under the Frog on a crowded double decker in a London traffic jam...and soon found myself laughing like an idiot... It is a triumph...painfully moving, it is also uproariously funny" (Guardian)

"A remarkable first novel" (Daily Telegraph)

"Original and impressive... Sharp, funny and moving" (Independent)

"A quite wonderful book... He takes a serious subject....and is seriously funny about it...the result is plausible, insolent, sophisticated and hungry... Glorious!" (Michael Hoffman)

"A funny, slangy, tragic, impeccably researched romp... A richly convincing line-up of skivers, copulators, opportunists and, above all, survivors in the face of oppression" (Independent on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A tragicomic picaresque about two basketball players travelling through war-torn Hungary in pursuit of food, sex and adventure. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is quite possibly my favourite novel. Without in any way mitagating the drama and misery of the surounding historical events, Fischer manages to involve you in the humour and lives of the individual characters. I was incredibly impressed by this book and would recomend it unreservedly.
You'll laugh, you'll cry...
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Rowland Review on 1 May 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this book whilst I was waiting for a dental appointment and knew I was in for a treat, having read the Thought Gang. Whilst having my teeth drilled was a painful experience, this book was anything but .The characterisation of this novel is the foundation of its strength. The main character is so believable because he is just like you - you can see yourself thinking his thoughts, feeling his increasing bewilderment. There is absolutely nothing about this novel which dosn't ring true, which is what makes it so funny. It is also what makes it so sad. When I had finished the novel I was so depressed I had to drink a bottle of wine. I became a pacifist almost overnight. It is the humour which makes it all so believable. At the moment I'm trying to force all of my friends to buy this book, a mission I've decided to transfer to the web. Beg, borrow, steal, buy it. You'll finish it in a day.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Scurrilous, funny, moving and - in it's own special way - an angry book, about Hungary under the Communist mailed fist. Our main protagonist is Gyuri, member of a basketball team which ranges the length and breadth of the country in a tireless search for better food, a comfortable bed and some kind of a sex life. Gyuri admires his sometime ally Pataki, star of the team, who wears sunglasses, has a sprinter's physique, success with girls and an uncanny ability to win card games. Pataki's daring escape from Communism, however, leaves him penniless in Hamburg, hungrily eyeing the ducks in the park.

The book is full of eccentric characters and bizarre moments and follows events after the expulsion of the Germans and the entry of the Russians after WWII. Being Hungarian is, Gyuri feels, like living under a frog at the bottom of a pond - cold, and cheerless in the extreme. Yet the basketball team has it easy compared with most. They are employed in sinecure jobs, the main qualification for which is being available to roll up at the end of the week for their pay-packets.

The book moves forward in time towards 1956, the year of the Hungarian Revolution, when for a few short weeks, the people rose and expelled their Russian masters. The world held its breath and the Hungarian people exulted. But the pleas sent out by radio for western help were ignored. Russian tanks rolled back into Budapest and Communism was imposed once more.

Written with a sure touch and full of delightfully ironic wit, this novel nevertheless has moments of desperate sadness and regret. It won the Betty Trask Award in 1992 and was short-listed for the Booker in 1993.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By miles pieri on 21 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read this book about six years ago and I've read it twice more since then. Fischer has always been a worthwhile writer but I don't think he's ever bettered his first novel. It's laugh-out-loud funny and sob-into-the-pages moving. Having lived in Hungary I can also say he has a remarkable 'feel' for the place and the people. I can say with a good degree of certainty that if you give this book a chance it will stay with you for ever. Read it. Please!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is undoubtedly the best book I've read in years. a story about serious stuff, but at the same time so funny, you cant help yourself but laugh out loud whilst reading it. I laughed so much that I got stomach cramps! a real gem, you won't want to put this book down. when I finished reading the book,I wished there were a follow up story, so to know what happened to Gyuri and all the other characters. I would recommend it to every expat Hungarian,like myself, and everyone who would like to get a bit of insight into a totalitarian regime. It inspired me to read Fisher's other books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henners on 26 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Not to everyone's taste, I see from a few of the reviews. But it did the job for me.

There is indeed plenty of scatological jocularity here, the author appears to have swallowed a thesaurus (someone being hanged at night is described as a "nocturnal suspension" - I'm pretty sure this is with humourous intention). And no doubt the tone of the stories from the depressing period of communist rule is rather light-hearted, but you sense that people think their lot in life is awful - hence the title of the book, as you learn.

But I found the main characters to be lovable rascals. The trials & tribulations of Gyuri's 'romantic' life were pretty amusing. This seems to me a very well told story. And I immediately went over to wiki to learn a little more about the Hungarian revolution. I remember very well from the TV series "the rock'n'roll years" the desperate sound of a Hungarian radio announcer calling on "London, Paris, New York.." etc for help as the Red Army rolled in. There is a passage that makes you think he's made some of the story up to be about the (presumably anonymous) female resistance fighter whose picture appears on the front cover.

One of the saddest things about the book is the brief flickering of optimism that everyone feels - just for a moment they think they are free of the Red Army - and of course the reader knows that the wait for freedom will be several times longer than they have already endured...The actual history is truly a story of hope crushed
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