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.

Published by the National Book Award winning Brooklyn Arts Press and translated into Czech by Jota Press (as Ošklivec), The Ugly was a best-seller among small presses in the United States, received the grand-prize “Best Book of 2016” award from the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and was a double finalist in the literary and humor categories for the 2016 American Library Associations Indies “Book of the Year” prize. It was also named one of the “Best Books of 2016: Best Fiction,” by Entropy Magazine and “Best Fiction Books of 2016 (A Year End List),” by Book Scrolling. It reached #1 on Goodreads’ New Releases and #1 on in World Literature.

Reviews and Awards

CIBA Awards: Best Book of 2016

The Ugly won the Overall Grand Prize for best book of 2016 across all genres at the CAC17 authors conference. Yay!

Book of the Year Finalist

The Ugly was named a 2016 Indies "Book of the Year" finalist by Foreword Reviews in two categories: literary fiction and humor.

2016 Somerset Prize

The Ugly won the 2016 Somerset Prize for "best literary and contemporary fiction," as well as its "satire" category, at CAC17.  

Entropy Magazine

The Ugly was named one of the “Best Books of 2016: Best Fiction” by Entropy Magazine.

Book Scrolling

The Ugly was included in Book Scrolling's year-end list of the best books of 2016.

Kirkus Reviews

“Consistently hilarious...[The Ugly is] a bizarre but delightful sendup of illogical arguments.”            
—Kirkus Reviews

Foreword Reviews

“Comedically absurd but also introspective, The Ugly challenges dogmatic clinging to the letter of the law...a globe-trotting tour de force that examines the complex relationship between words and actions.” [5 stars, editor's pick.].            
—Foreword Reviews

Poets & Writers

“Intelligent and emotional, existential and comedic, the satirical novel takes on the irrational trappings of our supposedly rational world.”
—Poets & Writers

Publisher's Weekly

“Muscular critique of conflicts both intellectual and physical. A surprising treat.”
—Publisher's Weekly

Buffalo News

“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.”
—The Buffalo News, William L. Morris, Primetime Emmy-nominated writer


"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.”            

Clash Media

“Hilarious, intelligent, challenging, and entertaining...This decade's A Confederacy of Dunces.”            
—Clash Media

Harvard Law Bulletin

The Harvard Law Bulletin and Harvard Law Today say The Ugly “breaks the mold” on books set in law school.            
—Harvard Law Bulletin

Kanadsky Slovak

“A great book.”
—Kanadsky Slovak

Above the Law

“The Ugly is often laugh-out-loud funny...I definitely recommend [it] for fans of insightful law school satire. If (for some reason) you are a fan of Senator Ted Cruz, you will definitely not enjoy The Ugly.”    
—Above the Law
(ABA's top news website for lawyers)

Slovak Spectrum TV

“One of the strangest, craziest, funniest, most interesting and most different novels anyone has ever put out.”            
—Slovak Spectrum TV

Heavy Feather Review

“Oddly unforgettable debut...Boldizar’s strength is his ability in writing confidently and intimately of these two drastically different, and equally foreign, worlds. ”    
—Heavy Feather Review

Writer's Bone

“I love a great writer bio. Here’s Alexander Boldizar’s: [...] Turns out that his debut novel, The Ugly, is just as entertaining ”    
—Writer's Bone


#AmReading selects The Ugly for September 2016    

NetGalley Featured Author

NetGalley chose The Ugly for its "Featured Debut Author" theme.

Small Press Distribution

The Ugly spent six months on the Small Press Distribution bestseller list for Fiction


The Ugly reached
#1 in World Literature
#1 in Mythology
#1 in Eastern European Literature
#1 in Lawyers & Criminals Humor
#3 in Dark Humor

If books had friends...

Several weeks of sitting between Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night is just too cool not to mention. Of course, nobody beats Catch-22!


The Ugly was voted #1 in Goodreads' list of September 2016 Releases.

North Shore News

The Ugly was featured in the North Shore News. Note: it's 372 pages, not 800!

LargeheartedBoy Book Notes

A bold and hilarious satire.
—LargeheartedBoy Book Notes

SPD Recommends

Small Press Distribution, which represents 400 smaller publishers, chose The Ugly as one of its recommended books


“Boldizar’s debut successfully recognizes the chasm between youthful idealism and the reality it’s often mired in..”
—Poornima Apte, Booklist


“A conversation with writer Alexander Boldizar about Harvard Law School, fatherhood, and his debut novel: The Ugly (2016).”
—Likeville Podcast

Vancouver Real TV

“An epic tale.”
—Vancouver RealTV

The Ugly is the funniest, smartest novel I’ve read in a long, long time.

— Pete Duval
author of Rear view: Stories

“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.”

— Mark powell
author of the sheltering

"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 finalist

“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 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
president of the american psychiatric association

Alexander Boldizar’s The Ugly, the hilarious and inventive and unforgettable story of Muzhduk the Ugli, is a work of kinetic absurdism infused with deep intelligence and feeling. A gift of a debut from a wholly original new voice.”

— laura van den berg
author of find me

“An epic satire not only of American legal education and the American legal system, but of modernity itself...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.”

— schedlinsky

“A full on satire of contemporary law as mesmerizing and complex as something lost from Foster Wallace, yet as light in tone as A Confederacy of Dunces.”

— goodreads

The Ugly/Ošklivec