An Interview with Tibor Fischer
Born in Stockport in 1959, Tibor Fischer was educated at Cambridge and worked as a journalist. Tibor’s parents were Hungarian basketball players who had fled Hungary after the 1956 Bloody Revolution. This event – together with his father’s background – inspired his debut novel Under the Frog(which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and received a Betty Trask Award), a Rabelaisian yarn about a Hungarian basketball player surviving Communism. 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.
Subsequent works include the critically acclaimed The Thought Gang, The Collector Collector, Don’t Read this Book if You’re Stupid, Voyage to the End of the Room and, last year, Good to Be God, published by Alma Books.
1) What led you into writing?
Unsuitability for regular employment.
2) What was your earliest career aspiration?
To do nothing.
3) Can you describe your latest book and its inspiration in thirty words?
4) Do you have any plans for your next book?
Yes, but plans are easy, writing is hard.
5) What has been the most exciting moment in your career?
Having dinner with Tom Robbins.
6) What are you reading right now?
I’m rereading Sándor Márai’s novel Jelvény és Jelentés, a title which is rather tricky to translate. Something like “Sign and Significance”. It’s a very, very strange book that doesn’t do the things you expect from a novel; it’s set in Berlin in the 1930s and has an astonishing section describing Hitler giving a speech in the Sportspalast in 1933, a speech Márai witnessed. I’ve never read a book like it, and it’s the best thing I’ve read, by far, on the Nazis.
7) If you could have dinner with any three people, past or present, who would they be?
I’ll take Cromwell, Apuleius and Traci Lords.
8) Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
Paris 1873 onwards.
9) If your house was on fire, which three books would you save from the flames?
I keep my Márai first-editions in a box by the door in case of emergency. I have more than three.
10) What do you do to relax?
Smoke dope and listen to Parsifal.
You can find out more about Good to be God here