The Hungarians have an expression for the worst place in the world to be: under the frogs ass down a coal mine. Under the Frog, Tibor Fischers brilliant recreation of postwar Eastern Europe, was the surprise literary success of London last year, where it won the Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
It is the very witty and very sad account of two young men who survive the chaos of communism as part of a traveling basketball team. Set in Hungary from 1944 to 1956, the story follows the fortunes of the team in pursuit of sex and the avoidance of work. Exuberant and energetic, Tibor Fischers first novel is a fascinating and oblique commentary on everyday life during those dramatic years. Fischer writes with the verve and irreverence of Martin Amis, but the world he recreates is one we know from George Konrad and Milan Kundera.