“A Divine Comedy of our times.”—John Irving, author of The World According to Garp
A 2022 ReLit Award Finalist • A Winnipeg Free Press Top Read of 2021
Following Original Prin, a NYTBR Editor’s Choice and Globe and Mail Best Book, Dante’s Indiana is an extraordinary journey through the divine comedies and tragedies of our time.
Middle-aged, married, but living on his own, Prin has lost his way. Desperate for money and purpose, he moves to small-town Indiana to work for an evangelical millionaire who’s building a theme park inspired by Dante’s Inferno. He quickly becomes involved in the difficult lives of his co-workers and in the wider struggles of their opioid-ravaged community while trying to reconcile with his distant wife and distant God. Both projects spin out of control, and when a Black teenager is killed, creationists, politicians and protesters alike descend. In the midst of this American chaos, Prin risks everything to help the lost and angry souls around him while searching for his own way home.
Following Original Prin, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and Globe and Mail Best Book, Dante’s Indiana is affecting and strange, intimate and big-hearted—an extraordinary journey through the darkly divine comedies of our time.
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Praise for Dante’s Indiana
“[Dante’s Indiana] mixes the outrageous social satire of George Saunders or Salman Rushdie with Prin’s more solemn and inward religious searching. The unique result juxtaposes the ridiculous and the sublime—fitting as both an homage to Dante and a portrayal of America.”—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“Boyagoda keeps things moving quickly and imaginatively. He skewers hosts of sinners along the way, but the wit has a winsome empathy behind it. A rollicking, inventive, mostly successful satire—with a vein of seriousness and sadness underneath.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Dante’s Indiana succeeds as a funny, unpredictable and occasionally moving tale.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“Boyagoda set himself a challenge, and it’s one that he’s up to … Boyagoda makes it seem easy with a series of apt similes … This is the sort of imaginative verbal panache that in our own vernacular pays tribute to Dante as literary guide … The classics, however, are always reimagined in ways that respond to the personal anxieties and public crises of our own time. In the shattered funhouse of the twenty-first century we may be expected to redefine the content of a faith that sustains.”—Toronto Star
“Witty and wrenching.”—Globe & Mail
“The antics of Boyagoda’s characters are as tragicomically uproarious as they are startling—and yet, as presented, also entirely believable. The plot delightfully follows Aristotle’s advice to prefer the plausible impossibility to the implausible possibility. What ensues is a genuine levity that lifts the reader over substantive plot points that, less sensitively handled, could raise a multitude of defenses. By lighthearted treatment of the truly ridiculous, Boyagoda earns the right to look with authentic compassion on characters’ serious sorrows.”—Fare Forward
“Boyagoda’s novel might be one of the best ways to “remember Dante forward”—to remember him in the present tense. By channeling Dante in a satirical vein, Boyagoda helps us see the impulses shaping the American and global economic order as spiritual forces—and the decisions made by individuals, communities, and even nations as products of disordered desire.”—Image Journal
“Boyagoda shows how the political is always personal and the personal is always spiritual. The last ninety pages of the novel move at break-neck speed … The effect is a bit dizzying, but maybe that’s the point—in an age where the internet connects us across oceans and time zones, no one exists in isolation and every occurrence is connected.”—ZYZZYVA
“Randy Boyagoda takes a bold dive into some of society’s most contentious issues in his latest novel, Dante’s Indiana … The theme of being lost and also being found is at the crux of Prin’s experience and that of the other characters. That profound idea found in Catholic liturgy and in Scripture is central to the religious tradition at play in this book.”—Catholic Register
“In his most recent and best novel to date, Randy Boyagoda rides a rollercoaster that could easily derail into infernal entertainment … With its admixture of playfulness and gravitas, Dante’s Indiana is an unlikely footnote to David Foster Wallace’s peerless novel Infinite Jest, which wows readers with an extended analogy between addiction and entertainment … Passing through Prin’s purgatorial rollercoaster, seeing the sights beyond the theme park lights, the reader is sharpened by shocks of recognition, the sort that Dante’s commedia gives us.”—Law & Liberty
“Dante’s Indiana is, like the first book, about Prin’s adventures in a world that is crazy and chaotic for a man of faith. And it is, also like the first, real, yet surreal. Hugely funny, yet poignant … Many of us will find our stories reflected in Boyagoda’s work, we’ll meet people we know.”—Desi News
“Randy Boyagoda’s Dante’s Indiana is many things—knee-slapping satire, social commentary, spiritual pilgrimage. But above all, it is an attempt to bring contrapasso to bear on contemporary American life, both implicitly and explicitly … As in his first novel, Boyagoda mixes the sacred and profane to great effect … By locating the sacred within the profane, Dante’s Indiana offers a counternarrative to that of the culture wars … Boyagoda’s novel is hilarious and deeply touching.”—Plough Quarterly
“Full of memorable characters and as fast-paced as the roller coaster that will be the main ride of hell, the novel reads like a movie script … Even when the plot descends into dark topics, Boyagoda’s eye for wit keeps the novel lighthearted … Sometimes absurd, sometimes witty, the humor of Dante’s Indiana is always thoughtful, never hurtful, and often satirical … As Prin makes his path through the twists and turns of this novel, he never gives up hope that heaven awaits on the other side of purgatory.”—North Texas Catholic
“A Divine Comedy of our times—a morality play of an Everyman. An ordinary English professor, struggling to hold his marriage together, finds himself working for holy rollers and scheming businessmen. Hysterically funny, but with an underlying sadness—such Heaven and Hell already coexist in America, and in this novel.”—John Irving, author of The World According to Garp
“The astonishing Boyagoda at his astounding best … Dante’s Indiana is a satirical stunner, a mad Midwestern tour de force and one of the most moving, most incisive maps of our grim contrapasso present you’ll ever read, a novel that is both humblingly humane and soaringly divine. Dante’s Indiana is what would happen if Saunders’ CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Moby Dick had a prophetic prodigal child. This book is a miracle.”—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Dante’s Indiana is proof that a book can be both entertaining and literary—just like a theme park of Dante’s Inferno. Randy Boyagoda peoples his novels with lovable characters. They’re smart but not wise. Hurting but hopeful. Principled but exploited. The novel is political, satirical, allegorical … and almost a straight-up mirror of our times. This is a book we could all use right now.”—Ian Williams, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Reproduction
“Randy Boyagoda’s writing fills me with laughter, delight—and envy. With ambition and an unerring eye for detail, Dante’s Indiana conjures a world that is savage, satirical, and unexpectedly tender.”—Aravind Adiga, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The White Tiger