Photo by angelscrime used under Creative Commons license.
Tibor Fischer, Under the Frog (Picador, 2001).
Those of us who were outsiders to closed societies like Hungary under communist rule are left to wonder: what was it like? Tibor Fischer— a Hungarian born and raised in London—is more than partly an outsider himself. His debut novel, Under the Frog, is a very dark and very funny comedy set in and around Budapest between the end of World War Two and the failed 1956 uprising against the Community Party. Fischer is writing here about his parents’ generation, and it is difficult to read this book and not catch both his pride in his parents and countrymen, as well diaspora-bitterness at plenty else. October 23rd, the first day of the uprising, is now a national holiday in Hungary.
An overview of Fischer’s biography and his place in Eastern Europe’s diaspora writers can be found here. Larry Wolff wrote a review for The New York Times in 1994. A 1997 interview with Fischer about a later book, The Thought Gang, can be found here. A 2004 review of Under the Frog on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising can be found here.