The Ugly

Alexander Boldizar. Brooklyn Arts (SPD, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (372p) ISBN 978-1-936767-47-2
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
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