Carl L. Harshman and Ryan D. Harshman, “Dante’s Cubicle: Paving the Road from Hell in Corporate America” (2015)

Untitled“This is a business fiction, but . . . the stories are based on real life events. Michael, a young, enthusiastic engineer in his first full-time job, narrates life with this “worker bee” colleagues in the world of cubicles. The colleagues are a diverse group of individuals one is likely to find in such a setting. Early in the book a mysterious character appears to engage Michael in dialogues about what is going on in the Archangel Corporation. This mysterious individual provides perspective and occasional advice to Michael on what he is experiencing and how he might engage it going forward. Everyone who has worked in an American corporation can identify with Michael’s and the group’s experiences and gain some perspective on the alternatives during the journey.”    —Amazon

Dimitry Elias Léger, God Loves Haiti (2015)

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Does God love my damaged country? This novel’s central question is a Dante paraphrase, and Dimitry Elias Léger’s central character, artist Natasha Robert, is “a self-proclaimed Caribbean-born daughter of Dante.” The Divine Comedy inspires her faith and her art, which features crucifixes, “Dante’s circles of hell,” “a forgiving, Haitian-looking Jesus.”  When the 2010 earthquake strikes Port-au-Prince, she is at the airport with her new husband, Haiti’s President, about to board a plane that will take them into exile in Italy.

Post-quake, in a world of white dust and broken bodies, Natasha’s first response is to pick a fight with Dante: “Dante was wrong, she thought. This is what hell is like. In hell, you’re alive but everyone and everything that you love is dead and destroyed, and you don’t know what to do or say. Dante didn’t get it. You had to die or receive this kind of news to truly glimpse hell.” The President, meanwhile, lies flat on the tarmac, trying out a near-death vision of his political predecessors arguing with Saint Peter over their place in eternity. Natasha’s lover, Alain Destiné, waits out most of the novel in refugee camp purgatory, posing variations on the question “God, how could You?”

If you are looking for The Divine Comedy in God Loves Haiti, imagine what Dante’s three-story structure might look like after an earthquake. In Léger’s narrative landscape, Inferno, Purgatario, Paradiso are collapsed onto each other in a heap of dust and rubble. There’s room to regret past choices; there’s no clear route to paradise. Yet in the hellish expanses of destruction Léger manages to uncover shards of redemptive beauty and even a medieval plot twist: his eventual solution to the love triangle is far more Beatrice than Beyoncé.    –Julia Boss

 

Nathaniel Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow (2013)

Odds Against TomorrowMitchell Zukor, the protagonist of Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, suffers from panic attacks and often uses phrases like “going to a deeper circle in hell.”

Rich’s website describes the novel:

“New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. [. . .]

“As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe–ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters–he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. [. . .]

“Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. [. . .]

“At once an all-too plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.”    —Nathaniel Rich’s Website

 

Contributed by Thomas Jonkergouw, Universiteit Utrecht

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” (2014)

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“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”  —Amazon

Contributed by Gabriella and Pamela Montanaro

Fede Alvarez, Dante’s Inferno Movie

Fede AlvarezFede Alvarez, Uruguayan director of Evil Dead, will be directing a live-action movie adaptation of Electronic Arts’ 2010 video game, Dante’s Infernofor Universal Pictures.

Alvarez himself confirmed the rumors in an interview with Collider.com, in which he says:

“It sounds like that might be the next film.  We’re super excited about everything on that movie.  It’s with Universal.  Jay Basu’s the writer, he did great work on the script, we worked together on the story.  We’ve got a great script already and we’re about to start casting the film.  So it’s pretty close, pretty exciting.  Basically we’re making a film based on the biggest mythology about hell ever; the biggest poem about hell.  So it’s really something that is super exciting, and it’s not the hell you’ve seen before.  It’s completely different form whatever you think.  It’s one of those films that if you expect to see lava and caves, you’re not going to get that, it’s a completely new realm and new universe.  Horror fans will dig it, because for me it was a good transition to go from Evil Dead to go and do something that is more a big adventure, but set in hell, so of course it’s pretty hardcore just because it’s hell itself.  So it’s pretty cool.  It’s a cool movie.” — Interview with Haleigh Foutch, “Fede Alvarez Talks From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Working with Robert Rodriguez, Evil Dead 2MachinaDante’s Inferno, and More,” Collider (May 6, 2014)

See also: Dante Today’s post about the EA video game.

Contributed by Sarah Montross

The Veronica Mars Movie (2014)

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In The Veronica Mars Movie, a spinoff of the television series Veronica Mars created by Rob Thomas, Veronica (Kristen Bell) returns to her hometown to solve a crime. At her ten-year high school reunion, she makes a Dante reference:

“In a lesser known epic poem, Dante’s Inferno 2: ‘Hell Freezes Over’, ten years after escaping the nine circles, Dante returns. You know, for old times’ sake. Have a couple shots, catch up with the gang [. . .] See if Lucifer is still a bitch.”    —The Veronica Mars Movie

Francesco Gungui, Canti delle Terre Divise (2014)

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Canti delle Terre Divise

Italian author Francesco Gungui completed the Canti delle Terre Divise trilogy this year: Inferno (2103), Purgatorio, and Paradiso (2014). Gungui’s young adult novels tell the story of Alec and Maj, two teenagers living in a dystopic city that resembles the landscape of The Divine ComedyGungui, a Milan native, is a popular young adult writer in Italy. The Canti delle Terre Divise series is his most recent work.

“Se sei nato a Europa, la grande città nazione del prossimo futuro, hai due sole possibilità: arrangiarti con lavori rischiosi o umili, oppure riuscire a trovare un impiego a Paradiso, la zona dove i ricchi vivono nel lusso più sfrenato e possono godere di una natura incontaminata. Ma se rubi o uccidi o solo metti in discussione l’autorità, quello che ti aspetta è la prigione definitiva, che sorge su un’isola vulcanica lontana dal mondo civile: Inferno.

“Costruita in modo da ricalcare l’inferno che Dante ha immaginato nella Divina Commedia, qui ogni reato ha il suo contrappasso. Piogge di fuoco, fiumi di lava, gelo, animali mostruosi rendono la vita difficile ai prigionieri che spesso muoiono prima di terminare la pena. Nessuno sceglierebbe di andare volontariamente a Inferno, tranne Alec, un giovane cresciuto nella parte sbagliata del mondo, quando scopre che la ragazza che ama, Maj, vi è stata mandata con una falsa accusa. Alec dovrà compiere l’impresa mai riuscita a nessuno, quella di scappare con lei dall’Inferno, combattendo per sopravvivere prima che chi ha complottato per uccidere entrambi riesca a trovarli…

“Il primo romanzo di una trilogia fantasy di grandissima potenza, scritta da uno degli autori italiani young adult più amati.”    —Amazon

Peter Mountford, The Dismal Science (2014)

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“The mountain of Purgatory haunts the cover of Peter Mountford’s arresting second novel, The Dismal Science. The image, which calls to mind the second volume of The Divine Comedy, leads the reader into the book, the stark path curling its way up toward Terrestrial Paradise, symbolized by one lonely but verdant tree.

“Purgatory is the underlying structural metaphor of the novel; across its sweep, Vincenzo D’Orsi, the main character, will ascend the mountain as he tries to make sense of, and finally purge, the wreckage of his life.”    –Martha McPhee, “The Dismal Science, by Peter Mountford,” The New York Times, April 11, 2014

Brigid Pasulka, Sun and Other Stars (2014)

brigid-pasulka-sun-and-other-starsIn his Sunday Book Review of Brigid Pasulka’s novel The Sun and Other Stars, Mike Peed describes the main character Etto: “. . . Etto tries to numb his pain with sarcasm and self-effacement. He is misanthropic and fatalistic, frequently funny and sometimes annoying. He explains himself by quoting Dante: ‘I found myself in a dark wilderness.’ Who will be his Virgil? Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian-born Italian soccer star ensnared in a match-fixing scandal who has absconded to San Benedetto’s supposed seclusion, inveigles Etto into playing regular pickup games and even fashions him a green-and-white jersey, ‘for hope and faith. When you do not have ability.'”    –Mike Peed, The New York Times, March 21, 2014

“Kindred Spirits: A Juxtaposition of Dante & Dickens”

dante-and-scrooge“. . . I cannot recall a time when I didn’t know the story of A Christmas Carol. The images and themes have delighted or haunted me since my childhood, either in the form of the ‘Dickens Village’ adventure at the mall or the hundredth or so viewing of the Muppet version. (Michael Caine, you will always be my Scrooge.) So when I studied Dante’s Commedia in college, it was no leap for me to recognize the countless similarities between the two stories. I would write C.C. in the margin every time I came across another bit of Dickens in Dante. At long last, I can pitch some these ideas to the wider world.”     –Kathyrn (blogger), Through a Glass Brightly, December 18, 2013

Contributed by Patrick Molloy