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Helen DeWitt

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Helen DeWitt was born in Washington D.C. in 1957, but spent most of her childhood in South America.  She has a B.A. and a D.Phil. in Classics from Oxford University. She worked in a collection of odd jobs while writing the highly acclaimed The Last Samurai, which was published in over twenty countries. Lightning Rods is her second novel to be published. DeWitt lives in Berlin.

Lightning Rods

More information

  • More about the novel on the Lightning Rods page.
  • Lightning Rods will be sent to And Other Stories subscribers in advance of publication on 1 October 2012. Find out about subscribing here.
  • In Prospect magazine, n+1 editor Richard Beck writes on America’s new literary generationLightning Rods is the one real alternative presented: ‘It opens up possibilities, both literary and political, that you hadn’t realised were there before.’

Praise for Lightning Rods

  • ‘A razor-sharp comic masterpiece.’ David Evans, Financial Times
  • ‘A masterclass in contained satirical exploration.’ Sam Byers, TLS
  • ‘This is excellent: cold and crazy.’ Joan Acocella, New Yorker
  • ‘An extremely funny satire on office politics, sexual politics, American politics, and the art of positive thinking’ Jenny Turner, The Guardian
  • ‘Brilliant satire on yes-we-can culture’ Anna Aslanyan, The Independent
  • ‘Nasty idea; very funny book. Helen DeWitt maintains a strong, clear, narrative voice throughout, pitch-perfectly parodying management speak, corporate culture and self-help bibles.’  Holly Williams, The Independent on Sunday
  • ‘As it moves inexorably onwards with the cold, hard logic of the free market, Lightning Rods gets ever funnier and more bizarre, its targets loftier and its analysis more acute’ David Annand, The Telegraph
  • ‘What you need, sometimes, is uncompromising anger, and in Lightning Rods DeWitt’s anger throws off all kinds of bright light.’ Richard Beck, Prospect
  • ‘Helen DeWitt shocks the reader with her intelligence… a weird, generous, hilarious marvel.’ Teju Cole, author of Open City
  • ‘Savagely funny and wilfully provocative, Lightning Rods sees Helen DeWitt let her fearless imagination run riot. A satirist up there with Swift and Orwell.” Anthony Holden, author of Big Deal
  • ‘DeWitt takes a wonderfully absurdist idea and develops it with flawless logic and a deliciously deadpan humour.’ Rupert Thomson, novelist, author of This Party’s Got to Stop
  • ‘Uproariously funny … DeWitt is a brutal humorist.’ Wall Street Journal
  • ‘Lightning Rods is a Candide for our time.’ Toril Moi
  • ‘The laughing-so-hard-other-people-on-the-subway-are-starting-to-wonder-if-you-require-psychiatric-attention kind of book.’ Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions
  • ‘DeWitt took 12 years to give us a follow-up to the much-beloved 2000 novel The Last Samurai, so it’s a good thing Lightning Rods was absolutely brilliant.’ Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
  • ‘One of the more rewarding new novels I’ve read this year.’ Scott Esposito, Los Angeles Review of Books
  • ‘DeWitt’s wickedly smart satire deserves to be a classic.’ Rhonda Liebermann, Bookforum
  • ‘The language in Lightning Rods is sneaky, tendentious, and deceptive; and it is that which makes it such a triumph, so funny and so frightening.’ John Self, Asylum
  • ‘A hilarious and pretty near perfect novel.’ Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
  • ‘Intelligent, funny and absurd.’ Tracy O’Neill, Critical Mob
  • ‘Quite simply the oddest novel I have ever read.’ Ilana Teitelbaum, Huffington Post
  • Lightning Rods is at least partly an exploration of the idea that bolstered with enough rhetorical hot air, just about anything can be marketed successfully to the public as a legitimate cause or product.’ Ilana Teitelbaum, Huffington Post
  • ‘DeWitt’s language is irrepressible, full of energy and control.’ Alan Bowden, Wordsofmercury
  • ‘What is astonishing about Lightning Rods is DeWitt’s razor-sharp humour and her seemingly effortless control of language and voice’  Eva Stalker
  • ‘Lightning Rods is clever, funny, raises a lot of questions about sex, morality, gender divide and corporate life without ever preaching and is very, very memorable.’ Alex in Leeds
  • ‘You will look at the world differently after reading Lightning Rods – and you can’t really ask for more from a novel than that.’ David Hebblethwaite, Follow The Thread
  • ‘This novel was very clever and extremely funny. I loved it. (10/10)’ Annabel Gaskell, Gaskella
  • ‘DeWitt’s ear for the rhythm and feel of the bland commercialized language of Homo americanus rivals those of S. J. Perelman and John Ashbery.’ Stephen Dodson, LanguageHat
  • ‘Language is certainly a concern of the novel…highly accomplished voice, a pastiche of self-help-derived, corporate sales schpiel and good-old, down-home values to produce something both very funny and capable of carrying off a single-minded logic…compellingly, brilliantly strange’ Mark Blacklock, You and Me and The Continuum
  • It is a brave, challenging novel which could quite easily be misconstrued as sexist, inappropriate or just plain dirty, but it is, in truth, none of these things. It is, plainly speaking, brilliant.’ Bii’s Books blog

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