Under the Frog
|Publisher||The New Press (US)|
Polygon Books (UK)
Under the Frog is British-born Hungarian writer Tibor Fischer's debut novel, it was published in 1992. The book was a winner of the 1992 Betty Trask Award and was the first debut novel to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
The novel is a black comedy set in Hungary in the years immediately following the end of World War II and culminates in the 1956 uprising. Its protagonists are Gyuri, Pataki and several others, basketball players who dream of escaping their dead-end factory jobs, and travel to all their basketball gigs in the nude, even when this involves using public transport. The book especially parodies the trumpeting of the "gains of socialism" by the regime, empty rhetoric which, Fischer suggests, all but the dimmest were able to see through even from the beginning.
The title is taken from a Hungarian expression, "a béka segge alatt" used to describe any situation when things can't seem to get any worse: "under a frog's arse, down a coalmine".