The new novel from Kozhimannil (Awake America, 1989) is a highly imaginative tale in which George W. Bush gets the punishment many liberals think he deserves.
A blend of fact and fiction, this scathing satire revisits not only the controversial presidency of George W. Bush, but also his death, resurrection and final judgment. On his merciless march down the path to hell, Bush is joined by a familiar cast of characters, including his chicken-hawk administration, media pundits and historical figures representing everything from peace and justice (in the form of Gandhi) to the darkest iniquity (personified by Hitler). Foremost, the book’s Dantean framework supports some entertaining flights of imagination; Bush and his cronies are brought up on charges of war crimes in the 2020s, conservative environmental policies lead to centuries of Al Gorean upheaval and the end of the world in 2847, demons force Bush’s entourage to battle with Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden’s people, Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney, takes a trip from heaven to hell to scold his former master, and, in the captivating conclusion, a young female victim of the Iraq War forces Bush to sing “Thou Shall Not Kill” as she bounces him off a diving board and into hell’s burning lake of sulfur. However, the commentary has a bit of a hobbled-together, shoot-from-the-hip feel. Often-tangential quotes collected from the media run together and underscore myriad and sometimes random progressive points, such as the danger of junk food. The author has also included a few seemingly local anecdotes, using them to make clear points on a micro level, but apparently settling personal scores as well. Throughout, the venom is poured on thick—especially on Republicans.
Dubya’s Inferno will be a fun ride for Bush-bashing liberals, but lacks the nuance to propel it to greater cultural commentary.