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The Ugly

The Ugly

5.0 1
by Alexander Boldizar

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Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a 300-pound boulder-throwing mountain man from Siberia whose tribal homeland is stolen by an American lawyer out to build a butterfly conservatory for wealthy tourists. In order to restore his people’s land and honor, Muzhduk must travel to Harvard Law School to learn how to throw words instead of boulders. His anarchic


Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a 300-pound boulder-throwing mountain man from Siberia whose tribal homeland is stolen by an American lawyer out to build a butterfly conservatory for wealthy tourists. In order to restore his people’s land and honor, Muzhduk must travel to Harvard Law School to learn how to throw words instead of boulders. His anarchic adventures span continents, from Siberia to Cambridge to Africa, as he fights fellow students, Tuareg rebels, professors of law, dark magic, bureaucrats, heatstroke, postmodernists, and eventually time and space. A wild existential comedic romp, The Ugly tells the tale of a flawed and unlikely hero struggling against the machine that shapes the people who govern our world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Boldizar's singular debut unexpectedly combines Harvard Law School, the Tuareg wars in Mali, and Eastern European folk traditions in an expansive, occasionally surreal tapestry that improbably works. Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth knows that to keep his Siberian tribal standing, he needs to summit a higher mountain than those mastered by the Uglis before him. But when a Harvard-educated lawyer swindles the clan out of their land, Muzhduk realizes that there's an even higher mountain to conquer: law school. Through a series of increasingly bizarre misadventures, Muzhduk finds himself in Cambridge, Mass., with a perfect LSAT score and an unlikely champion on the faculty. Third-person accounts of Muzhduk's brief but infamous law school career are interspersed with his first-person narration of more recent events, which have brought him to Mali in search of the woman who got away. It's possible that only law students or lawyers will fully appreciate Boldizar's send-up of Ivy League legal education (he is himself the first post-independence Slovak citizen to receive a JD from Harvard), but even those with only a passing familiarity will nevertheless appreciate his muscular critique of conflicts both intellectual and physical. A surprising treat. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A picaresque novel about mountain people, Harvard lawyers, the heft of rocks, and the power of words. The Ugly brims with intelligence and humor."
-Laila Lalami, author of The Moor's Account, Pulitzer Prize finalist

"In his restrained and stark prose, Boldizar mixes a kind of fabulism with the absurd. The Ugly combines history and hilarity, and offers a sardonic view of the law and legal system. This is a strange and bold novel, original in its scope, story, and point of view. A wild fictional ride that will leave you wanting more."
-Nina Swamidoss McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the PEN Open Book Award

"Boldizar has opened a door into the parallel universe of myth. Out of it has stepped a modern day Beowulf."
-Alan Stone, author of Movies and the Moral Adventure of Life, former president of the American Psychiatric Association

Kirkus Reviews
A Slovak tribal chief attends Harvard Law School in order to gain the skills to save his tribe in Boldizar's debut satire. Muzhduk the Ugli, the Fourth, the leader of a tribe in northeastern Siberia, triumphantly defends a challenge to his chieftainship by winning the Dull-Boulder Throw. But in order to solidify his leadership status, the 300-pound Slovak must climb a mountain that's higher than those scaled by previous chiefs, including his father. Mount Baldhead in the Verkhoyansk Range appears to be ideal, but then a group of Americans shows up there, claiming that they've purchased it from the Russian government. Furthermore, an attorney with a law degree from Harvard University bamboozles Muzhduk and his father into signing over tribal land. Soon, Muzhduk is intent on applying to Harvard himself, seeing it as his metaphorical mountain; specifically, he wants to gain the proper vernacular to defeat the American lawyer at his own game. Despite a perfect LSAT score, he has trouble gaining admittance to the school, but he ultimately takes the place of another student, Peggy Roundtree, who gave up her spot. A concurrent plotline follows Muzhduk in Mali, a year or so later, searching for Peggy. It appears that some governments in Africa have declared Peggy a terrorist, and after rebels kidnap her, Muzhduk seeks to help her with his newfound weapon of words. Boldizar's lampoons of legal arguments are largely successful even if the frequent classroom discussions don't always make sense. For example, Muzhduk makes a point about a well-known 1994 lawsuit against McDonald's by contrasting buying hot coffee with slavery. It is, however, amusing to watch a man who's accustomed to settling disputes physically engage in a "word-throwing battle." The novel's humor carries into its occasional surreal moments, such as Muzhduk's interactions with a small, blue-furred, and possibly imaginary bear named Pooh (which the Slovak says might be a possible copyright violation). The scenes set in Mali are often tense, as the rebels feel like a genuine threat. Translated Slovak curses are sometimes offensive but consistently hilarious, such as "May your mother recognize you in kebab meat." A bizarre but delightful sendup of illogical arguments.

Product Details

Brooklyn Arts Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Alexander Boldizar was the first post-independence Slovak citizen to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Since then, he has been an art gallery director in Bali, an attorney in San Francisco and Prague, a pseudo-geisha in Japan, a hermit in Tennessee, a paleontologist in the Sahara, a porter in the High Arctic, a police-abuse watchdog in New York City, an editor and art critic in Jakarta and Singapore, and a consultant on Wall Street. His writing has won the PEN/Nob Hill prize and was the Breadloaf nominee for Best New American Voices. Boldizar currently lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where his hobbies include throwing boulders and choking people while wearing pajamas, for which he won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships and a bronze at the World Masters Championships of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For several years, an online Korean dictionary had him listed as its entry for "ugly."

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The Ugly 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SageA 11 months ago
I am confident to say that I have never read anything like The Ugly. It is fantasy mashed with history and then mixed with the modern world. It is funny, entertaining, and packed with adventure. Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is an awesome character. I was constantly amused by how he named things and people, and his descriptions were simple, yet his story was deep. He is on his way from his Siberian town to Harvard to study words. On the way, he has one unbelievable experience after another. If you are looking for a fun brain twister that is well written and filled with humor, check out The Ugly.