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the Complete Review

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Tibor Fischer
at the
complete review:

biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links


Name: Tibor FISCHER
Nationality: British
Born: 15 November 1959
Awards: Betty Trask Award (1993)

  • Graduated from Cambridge University (1980)
  • Budapest correspondent for the Daily Telegraph (1988-1990)

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Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.
Dates given are of first publication.

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What others have to
say about
Tibor Fischer:

  • "What impressed most about Fischer's debut was its genuinely original (and admirably authoritative) tone: there was very little trace in his writing of the sub-Amis clever-dick voice that attracts young British male novelists like moths to a light-bulb.(...) Under the Frog worked because the author meant every word, despite the laughter it provoked, but The Thought Gang is an engaging piece of whimsy looking for justification. I suspect that it will turn out to be a footnote to a long and noteworthy literary career." - Nick Hornby, Times Literary Supplement (9/12/1994)

  • "Of all the young novelists working today, Tibor Fischer may be the most adept at taking chances in his work. (...) For any novelist--but particularly one on his first time out--the decision to treat such material is a remarkably gutsy move. Although it comes billed as a "black comedy," Under the Frog is, at heart, a deeply serious work of fiction. Even its most humorous passages in no way prepare us for Fischer's second novel, The Thought Gang, which turns 180 degrees, abandoning the earlier book's perspective in favor of what is essentially a lampoon with a soul as dark as night." - David L. Ulin, The Nation (10/7/1995)

  • "The title of Tibor Fischer's first collection of short fiction [Don't Read This Book if You're Stupid] looms over the book like the inscription at the entrance to the Inferno. It sets the tone of provocation with a hint of misanthropy, but also of riding for a fall, which is typical of many of Fischer's characters and situations. (...) Perhaps a more fitting admonition to Tibor Fischer than Dante's is that of the Delphic oracle: know yourself." - David Horspool, Times Literary Supplement (31/12/1999)

  • "(O)ne of our funniest literary intellects" - Steven Poole, The Guardian (8/1/2000)

  • "Tibor Fischer is the Ali G of literature: the lunatic questions of reality he asks with sober mien turn out to be rather sensible compared with the deranged answers he receives. As a writer, he runs free of the literary pack, which is mightily refreshing. As a humorist (the word is too shallow and slick for him), his attraction is that he does not give us this day our improving medicine in satirical form. Nor are his satirical negations stagily nihilistic, and there is genuine darkness beneath what can sometimes seem a fashionably matt black surface. (....) Perhaps the best tribute to Fischer is that he is one of the handful of authors of whom one asks in hopeful anticipation what he or she is going to do next." - George Walden, New Statesman (31/1/2000)

  • "Fischer has continued to exercise his considerable literary talents, not to mention a propensity for unusual titles. (...) Like Martin Amis, Will Self, and Irvine Welsh, Fischer seems eager to destroy any notion that England (and indeed, Europe) is a civilized place. (...) Yet Fischer shows more restraint than the three writers mentioned above." - Sarah Coleman, San Francisco Chronicle (10/9/2000)

  • "Fischer clearly has no pity for the poor reader who craves a little sunshine amid the gloom. Digesting too many of these stories at a single sitting could cause heavy sighs and headache. Taken in small doses, their effect is only slightly less lugubrious. However, sampling them slowly does provide the opportunity to appreciate Fischer's frequently praised wit, which is both substantial and twisted." - Jabari Asim, The Washington Post (12/9/2000)

  • "With this, Tibor Fischer's first collection of stories after three decreasingly worthwhile novels, a career that began just eight years ago with a good deal of promise -- and even greater praise -- appears to have hit bottom. (...) After three volumes of frenetic hilarity and brittle swagger, we seem to see the real man for the first time. It's not a pretty sight. (...) Fischer's novels are books to deplore, denounce, even, for a certain kind of reader, delight in. I Like Being Killed is a book to diagnose." - William Deresiewicz, The New York Times Book Review (29/10/2000)

  • "At its best Fischer's prose has the capacity to be funny, perceptive and controlled." - Lloyd Evans, Daily Telegraph (18/8/2003)

  • "Fischer is possessed of a quirky, acidic intelligence and a picaresque sensibility. His books take the form of zany, erudite travelogues -- pakced with entertaining, if pointless, anecdotal diversions -- that make Tristram Shandy seem almost linear by comparison." - Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review (18/1/2004)

  • "High hopes were upon him, and that's often hard. But his career since then has seemed a gripless slide into a certain mordant, gymnastic cleverness -- an art formed of microtuned phrases and adept set-pieces that seem to exist for their own sake, with the story and characters as mere delivery system." - Gavin McNett, The Washington Post (18/1/2004)

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Pros and Cons
of the author's work:

  • Consistently clever and witty
  • Writes easily and very readably
  • Wild sense of humour and the bizarre

  • Good pieces, but books rarely manage to add up to wholes
  • Often a bit too bleak and dark in outlook

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the complete review's Opinion

     Tibor Fischer's Under the Frog was a notable debut. Apparently turned down by an astonishing total of fifty-eight publishers it went on to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
     Critics have not been as enthusiastic about his subsequent work, but he remains an intriguing writer -- clever, witty, sharp. The larger picture does often suffer, perhaps from the apparent ease with which he writes: even his novels bubble over with episodes and anecdotes, well told but not necessarily connected in a way to add up to a larger whole.
     Fischer's humour and style are clearly not to all tastes, but we've found all his work both entertaining (often immensely so) and thought-provoking

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Tibor Fischer: Tibor Fischer's books at the complete review: See also:

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