Is Donald Trump immune to satire? He must be one of the most widely and fiercely lampooned people of all time; indeed, his entire life can be seen as a one-man war of attrition against the forces of irony. His fortunes are not damaged by it. In fact it’s a war he keeps winning. After decades as the laughing stock of New York, during which he nevertheless succeeded in imposing himself on the city’s skyline and public imagination, Trump should have been forever neutralised by his public humiliation at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. It wasn’t the jokes themselves, delivered by President Obama and the comedian Seth Meyers, that were so bruising; it was the volume and merciless spirit of the laughter they elicited at Trump’s expense. Trump has a lot of fragile pride, but no shame. His campaign for president invited what must have been the largest onslaught of parodies, sketches, punch lines, unflattering cartoons and disparaging limericks that has ever been unleashed against a single individual. It had zero effect. In spite of it all, Trump managed to win.
Trump appears in Howard Jacobson’s new book not as the cosmetically enhanced grandfather we know, but as a child and then as a young man. Pussy is a full-scale allegorical satire, in the mould of Gulliver’s Travels or Candide, of the social phenomena that have produced President Trump.