Tibor Fischer

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Tibor Fischer
Fischer at Krasnoyarsk, 2012
Born (1959-11-15) 15 November 1959 (age 64)
Stockport, England
Alma materPeterhouse, Cambridge
Occupation(s)Novelist and short-story writer
Notable workUnder the Frog (1992)
AwardsBetty Trask Prize

Tibor Fischer (born 15 November 1959) is a British novelist and short-story writer. In 1993, he was selected by the literary magazine Granta as one of the 20 best young British writers, while his novel Under the Frog was featured on the Booker Prize shortlist.

Early life[edit]

Fischer's parents were Hungarian basketball players, who fled Hungary in 1956; first his father, György Fischer, and then his mother, the captain of the women's national basketball team. Tibor's father studied economics at Manchester University,[1] started work in the Hungarian section of the BBC, taking the name "George Fischer", and ended up as Radio Four's head of talks and documentaries.[2]

Tibor Fischer was born in Stockport, England, in 1959 and grew up in Bromley, Kent, where he attended the local comprehensive school. He studied Latin and French at Peterhouse, Cambridge.[3]


The 1956 revolution, and his father's background, informed Fischer's debut novel Under the Frog, about a Hungarian basketball team in the first years of Communism in Hungary. The title is derived from a Hungarian saying, that the worst possible place to be is "under a frog's arse down a coal mine."[4]

In 1992, the novel won a Betty Trask Prize for literature, and was the first debut novel to be shortlisted for the Booker prize.[3]

Fischer's subsequent novels include The Thought Gang, about a delinquent and alcoholic philosophy professor who hooks up with a failed one-armed bandit in France to form a successful team of bank robbers, and The Collector Collector, about a weekend in South London, narrated by a 5000-year-old Sumerian pot. Voyage to the End of the Room was published in 2003, and concerned an agoraphobic ex-dancer.

Good to be God was published by Alma Books on 4 September 2008. In it a broke, unemployed, "habitual failure" uses his friend's credit card to start a new life in Florida where he decides that the fastest way to make a fortune would be to start a religion.[4]

In 2000, Fischer published a short-story collection entitled Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid, published in the U.S. as I Like Being Killed: Stories.


In 2009, Fischer became the Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at City and Guilds of London Art School.[5][6]


In April 2017, Fischer wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian where he defended Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán's government against charges of authoritarianism and antisemitism.[7] In the same context, he rejected notions of the government going after the George Soros funded Central European University, arguing that the relevant and controversial amendment to the law on higher education affects some 28 foreign institutions, 27 of which were found to be operating with "irregularities" ("largely sloppy paperwork, something that will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with university admin") and that none has been fined or shut down. Fischer posits that the CEU "is not being singled out for punishment" but "asking to be given privileged treatment."[7]

In response to it, the newspaper received letters from CEU president Michael Ignatieff, Brian J. Dooley, of Human Rights First, and others, who expressed their opposition to Fischer's views,[8] arguing that the amendment requires the operation of a campus in CEU's country of origin, something that "would effectively make it impossible for CEU to operate in Hungary", and denying that the university has sought "special privileges".[8]




  • Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid (2000) (US title: I Like Being Killed)
  • Crushed Mexican Spiders (2011)


  1. ^ According to Fischer, "because his [father's] Hungarian accountancy degree wasn't taken seriously" in Britain: Interview" by Lisa Gee, 1997
  2. ^ Gee, Lisa (23 March 1997). "Who's A Clever Boy Then - Interview with Tibor Fischer". The Independent.
  3. ^ a b Tibor Firscher, British Council - Literature
  4. ^ a b "Chilton, Martin (5 May 2012). "Hay Budapest: Tibor Fischer just delighted to be himself". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Tibor Fischer is the School's New Royal Literary Fund Fellow, City and Guilds of London Art School, Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Fellow at City & Guilds of London School of Art, 2009/10, Royal Literary Fund, Archived 16 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "Fischer, Tibor (20 April 2017). "I don't recognise Viktor Orbán as a 'tyrant'". The Guardian.
  8. ^ a b "Democracy and academic freedom in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary", Letters, The Guardian, 23 April 2017.

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