Synopses & Reviews
A fierce, searing response to the chaos of the war on terror — an utterly original and blackly comic debut.
In the early years of the Iraq War, a severely burned boy appears on a remote rock formation in the Akkad Valley. A shadowy, powerful group within the U.S. government speculates: Who is he? Where did he come from? And, crucially, what does he know? In pursuit of that information, an interrogator is summoned from his prison cell, and a hideous and forgotten apparatus of torture, which extracts “perfect confessions,” is retrieved from the vaults. Over the course of four days, a cavalcade of voices rises up from the Akkad boy, each one striving to tell his or her own story. Some of these voices are familiar: Osama bin Laden, L. Paul Bremer, Condoleezza Rice, Mark Zuckerberg. Others are less so. But each one has a role in the world shaped by the war on terror. Each wants to tell us: This is the world as it exists in our innermost selves. This is what has been and what might be. This is The Infernal.
"Mark Doten has fashioned a thrilling, idiosyncratic attack on the mytho-historical madness of our time. The Infernal is a brave, crazy, magnetic debut." Sam Lipsyte
"The Infernal is insane. Mark Doten turns his war criminals into the lecherous cartoons they might really be, as if the Warren Report were a drugged-out musical. From now on I want all of my novels this brilliant, this crazily pitched, this original." Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet and Leaving the Sea
“Serious, future-altering genius.” Denis Cooper, author of The Marbled Swarm and The Sluts
“The Infernal is a tremendous novel: tightly controlled, swift and intelligent, compelling and suspenseful. Mark Doten holds a mirror up to society, showing us not only what it means to live in a post 9/11 world, but what it means to be human. I loved this book.” Molly Antopol
“Mark Doten is a tremendous and protean talent. The Infernal — monstrous and resplendent — is an essential novel of the war on terror, which Doten renders plainly as the cacophonous self-made Hell that it plainly is. His demonic vision reveals crucial and damning truths.” Justin Taylor, author of The Gospel of Anarchy
“From the first page to the last, [The Infernal] explodes like a roll of Black Cats in a dazzling, deafening, brilliant display of linguistic and intellectual energy. It will thrill you, confound you, and ultimately force you to submit to its perspective, and in the end it will change the way you think about the world you live in.” Dale Peck, author of Martin and John
About the Author
Mark Doten's writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Guernica, The Believer, and New York magazine. He has an MFA from Columbia University and is the recipient of fellowships from Columbia and the MacDowell Colony. He is currently a senior editor at Soho Press and lives in Brooklyn.