Lightning Rods


Helen DeWitt

The long-awaited second novel by the author of The Last Samurai.

Helen DeWitt’s follow-up to her critically accalimed debut novel The Last Samurai arrives with a bang, ready to take on the complex issues surrounding sexual tension in the workplace with a wicked dose of satire and humor.

Joe is a down-and-out salesman who spends most of his time sitting around his trailer in Florida fantasizing about women. But one afternoon a particularly strange fantasy turns into a life-changing epiphany. Suddenly he knows how to curtail sexual harassment in the office and increase productivity. His solution? Sexual lightning rods: women who, via a carefully constructed system of anonymity and strict protection, provide “sexual release” for alpha-male employees. As unlikely to succeed as it seems, Joe has finally found a product he can sell with boundless enthusiasm, and he simply refuses to fail, no matter what the obstacles. And of course he encounters quite a few of those on his rise through corporate America.

Lighting Rods is DeWitt at her finest, offering a mesmerizing blend of social commentary and jaw-dropping humor, all with a philosophic approach that takes modern storytelling into new realms of possibility.

More Praise…

“An absurdist comedy of the American workplace and the indignities faced by employees in today's turbo-capitalism, a quietly seething feminist critique of pornography and the commodification of women, and a category-defying fable about the meaninglessness of success.”

“Dewitt maintains a strong, clear, narrative voice throughout, pitch-perfectly parodying management speak, corporate culture and self-help bibles.”

“A razor-sharp comic masterpiece.”

“A tightly disciplined and extremely funny satire on office politics, sexual politics, American politics, and the art of positive thinking.”

The Guardian

“[Helen DeWitt] tunes into the contemporary American idiom and its corporate-speak with perfect pitch.”

The Rumpus

“This is excellent: cold and crazy...The jokes are like hammers.”

The New Yorker

“DeWitt is a brutal humorist...uproariously funny.”

The Wall Street Journal

Lightning Rods is an exercise in novel as extrapolation. It’s an appealingly practical way to think about writing fiction, and one that ignores any distinction between realism and fantasy.”

— The New York Observer

“It so emphatically aces the tasks it sets for itself, and delivers such a jolt of pleasure along the way, that it reminds me of just how major a minor work can be... At any rate, as one of her endearingly flummoxed characters might say, I literally cannot wait to see what she does next.”

— Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions