Awards & Distinctions
- Best Book of 2016: overall Grand Prize winner, CAC17
- Somerset Prize for best "literary and contemporary fiction" of 2016
- 2016 Indies Book of the Year double finalist (literary & humor), winner TBD
- Best Books of 2016: Best Fiction, Entropy Magazine
- Best Fiction Books of 2016 (A Year End List), Book Scrolling
- #1 on Goodreads’ New Releases
- #1 on Amazon in World Literature
- #1 in Eastern European Literature
- #1 in Mythology
- #3 in Dark Humor
- Bread Loaf representative to Best New American Voices anthology (first chapter)
- PEN/Nob Hill Prize Winner (for Pulling Shadows)
Foreword Reviews [5 stars, editor's choice]
"Comedically absurd but also introspective...The Ugly is a globe-trotting tour de force that examines the complex relationship between words and actions."
Kirkus Reviews [featured review]
"Consistently hilarious...A bizarre but delightful sendup of illogical arguments."
"[A] muscular critique of conflicts both intellectual and physical. A surprising treat."
"Boldizar's debut successfully recognizes the chasm between youthful idealism and the reality it's often mired in."
"The Ugly is an ambitious, deep, hilarious work that exists somewhere between the real and the absurd. Boldizar is able to balance humour and deep meaning to comment on law, thought, and how we construct meaning."
"Like a boisterous Borges ignoring the delete key or an angry Celine forced to write in a language he hates, Alexander Boldizar plays with our minds by mixing fact with fiction in “The Ugly”... Borrowing from every fabulist he knows he turns Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” on its head. Kurtz’s “horror” has become Boldizar’s “Ugly”... It’s as if the “Harvard Lampoon” turned on itself...Kurtz has returned from the jungle and the horror is our institutions."
Poets & Writers Magazine
"With a hero poised to go down in literary history, The Ugly tells the story of a 300-pound Siberian man who goes to Harvard Law School to try to save his homeland from an American lawyer out to turn it into a tourist trap. Intelligent and emotional, existential and comedic, the satirical novel takes on the irrational trappings of our supposedly rational world
Above the Law
"Laugh-out-loud funny....I definitely recommend The Ugly for fans of insightful law school satire."
Vancouver Real TV
"An epic tale."
Slovak Spectrum TV
"One of the strangest, craziest, funniest, most interesting and most different novels anyone has ever put out."
Kanadsky Slovak Newspaper
"Intellectual giant...A great book."
Harvard Law Today
"Breaks the mold" on novels set at Harvard Law School.
"The Ugly is one of my favorite current novels. It is hilarious, intelligent, challenging, and entertaining...This decade's A Confederacy of Dunces."
Heavy Feather Review
"Oddly unforgettable debut novel."
"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. If you are looking for a fun brain twister that is well written and filled with humor, check out The Ugly."
Chanticleer Reviews [5 stars]
"An eccentrically irreverent work, reminiscent of Heller and Beckett, that will amuse and enlighten. Absurd in the very best sense of the word."
The Book Adventures of Emily [5 stars]
"The Ugly is amazing! Seriously, this is not a book you come across everyday. Super funny. The Ugly is totally a book that I'm surprised I enjoyed, it seems out there, which it is, but it's great! The writing is awesome, so is the plot."
Chandler Gray Books
"The Ugly is a serious piece of satire. I very much enjoyed the book, and I am in awe of the author's power with words."
Timberland Regional Library
"The Ugly is smart, funny and wildly adventurous."
Goodreads (#1 New Releases, Sept 2016)
"A full on satire of contemporary law as mesmerizing and complex as something lost from David Foster Wallace, yet as light in tone as A Confederacy of Dunces."
Laila Lalami, author of The Moor's Account, Pulitzer Prize finalist
"A picaresque novel about mountain people, Harvard lawyers, the heft of rocks, and the power of words. The Ugly brims with intelligence and humor."
Pete Duval, author of Rear View: Stories
"The Ugly is the funniest, smartest novel I've read in a long, long time; its protagonist, the inimitable and lovable Muzhduk, is a literary creation for the ages."
Nina Swamidoss McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the PEN Open Book Award
"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."
Alan Stone, author of Movies and the Moral Adventure of Life, former president of the American Psychiatric Association
"Boldizar has opened a door into the parallel universe of myth. Out of it has stepped a modern day Beowulf."
Gibson Fay-Leblanc, author of Death of a Ventriloquist and poet laureate of Portland
"A wild ride that shows us the irrational underbelly of our supposedly rational world."
Mark Powell, author of The Sheltering
"Seldom does one encounter a book that balances so much intelligence with so much heart. Muzhduk the Ugli belongs among the great heroes of fiction, alongside Bellow's Augie March and Dostoevsky's Alyosha. The Ugli is like a great professor entertaining with larger than life stories. It's only after you stop laughing that you realize how much you've learned."
Andrew Case, author of The Big Fear and A Falling Knife
"An epic satire not only of American legal education and the American legal system, but of modernity itself. It is easy to say that we have become complacent by living in an ordered world that we had no role in creating, or that we are out of touch with our animal instincts, but it is very hard to tell us this lesson--and so much more--by making us laugh, think, feel, and weep. The closest comparison I can think of to this book is A Confederacy of Dunces--it is a story of an outsider who has a pure heart and a vast mind exposing our comfortable world simply by being forced to live in it. While the book challenges the reader, it does so through humor and a wicked wit, and with great flourishes of language and terrific prose. A tremendous achievement."
Kevin Winchester, author of Everybody's Gotta East and On Trembling Ground
"The dark comedy genre has been waiting for a new torch-bearer. We've found him. Boldizar has written one of the funniest, smartest, and most pointed novels in the dark comedy / satirical vein. As I read it through the first time, I kept thinking of Saul Bellow's "Henderson, the Rain King," and Heller's "Catch 22." Muhzduk's quest enlightens and entertains; the play with language, with words, is intelligent, and the satirical view of law school, and lawyers, is both insightful and revealing, especially in today's litigious society. This book is hilarious, well-written, and creative. It certainly earns its spot on the shelf right alongside the great classics of the genre."
"I did feel like I was punched in the face a few times while reading this novel, but it was well worth it."
"I feel that part of the joy of reading is to be surprised by the mind of the author. To be taken places I couldn’t have known, given ideas I wouldn’t have thought of, and shown things I wouldn’t have thought to look for. This book is all that and more."
"I really enjoyed The Ugly. It was unpredictable without being chaotic, startlingly broad ranging, and, on occasion, laugh out loud funny. I'd heartily recommend this book."
"A surreal and satirical romp through Africa, Siberia and the dark underworld of Harvard Law School. I've never read anything quite like The Ugly. Full of surprises, clever dialogue and unexpected characters, it will keep you entertained to the end."
"One of my favorite books of 2016, The Ugly has everything: philosophy, humor, politics, sex, magic, crime, desert car chases, failure, hope, and forgiveness. Epic in scope, a wonderful wild absurdist yawp."
"An excellent novel in the style of Joseph Heller (Catch 22), using absurdity and the vision of an "Outsider" in Ugli to critique culture and thinking. Genuinely funny throughout, parts towards the end can be a bit "dense", both in purpose and prose, but really enjoyable nonetheless."
"Conan the Barbarian attempts to solve the Riddle of Steel at Harvard Law School in a story plotted by David Foster Wallace and written by John Kennedy Toole."
"This is a hilarious book and one that I have started recommending to my current and prospective law students. Not that it is just for people who have something to do with law. A great absurd romp."
Alfred Steiner III
"Despite its absurdist tone, "The Ugly" faithfully recounts how Harvard Law School's student body enforces conformity while its faculty sows anxiety. Its boulder-hurling, mountain-climbing protagonist, Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth, is the perfect foil for the rarefied air of the law school classroom."
"The scale of Boldizar's novel, "The Ugly," is epic. With Odysseusian smarts and Groucho’s humor, our hero spoils the illusion of Western litigable civil society. Ribald, clever, fast paced, The Ugly is likely to become a contemporary classic. The author falls neatly on the shelf next to Heller, Vonnegut, Twain, and Foster Wallace."
"You'll be asking yourself 'What the hell did I just read?'... but in a good way. One of those rare books that doesn't require a bookmark. No matter where you stop, you're guaranteed to go back and reread a few pages each time you pick it up. Its brand of absurdity demands it. Did that really say what I remember it saying? Yes, yes it did."