PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIf the second half of Kalb’s narrative is less affecting than the first, perhaps that is simply because everything after escape from a probable pogrom must be ... The author’s hints at her grandmother’s failings make Bobby more character and less caricature, but one longs for a still more fully rounded portrait. Some moments of neglect and even cruelty sit uneasily alongside Bobby’s quips and potted family histories.
RaveThe Paris ReviewThe Last Samurai is not a novel for everyone—no novel is—but it is a novel for many people. It is deliberately—proudly—erudite and intertextual; it is, like the mind of its author, stubbornly idiosyncratic. But also, importantly: it is a novel less interested in being ambitious for ambition’s sake, than it is in cultivating ambition in its readers ... If DeWitt could not set aside the limitations of her time, The Last Samurai certainly struggles against them. Narrative trains of thought are interrupted, mid-sentence, and then picked back up, pages later ... We are all too dumb, I suspect, for Helen DeWitt, if only because we are too lazy to be the one out of the hundred who refuses to spare herself the trouble of rational thought.
Iris Murdoch (Edited by Avril Horner & Anne Rowe)
PositiveThe New RepublicIf Murdoch’s letters shock, it is because her behavior is perhaps exaggerated, but not unrecognizable. We can laugh at self-deceivers in her novels for the same reason: not because we are so constant, but because they flit from passion to passion merely more frequently than we do.