The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai


‘Fiercely intelligent, very funny and unlike anything else I’ve ever read’ MARK HADDON
'Original...witty...playful…a wonderfully funny book' JAMES WOOD
'A triumph – a genuinely new story, a genuinely new form' A. S. BYATT

Eleven-year-old Ludo is in search of a father. Raised singlehandedly by his mother Sibylla, Ludo’s been reading Greek, Arabic, Japanese and a little Hebrew since the age of four; but reading Homer in the original whilst riding the Circle Line on the London Underground isn’t enough to satisfy the boy’s boundless curiosity. Is he a genius? A real-life child prodigy? He’s grown up watching Seven Samurai on a hypnotising loop – his mother’s strategy to give him not one but seven male role models. And yet Ludo remains obsessed with the one thing his mother refuses to tell him: his real father’s name. Let loose on London, Ludo sets out on a secret quest to find the last samurai – the father he never knew.


  • Her style is brilliantly heartless, and cork-dry; original herself, she is a witty examiner of human and cultural eccentricity. She is, above all, playful… What grounds all DeWitt’s brilliance and game-playing is the way that she dramatizes a certain kind of hyperintelligent rationalism and probes its irregular distribution of blindness and insight…a wonderfully funny book, but comedy dances near the abyss; the apprehension of humor’s frailty links DeWitt to the tragicomic tradition of Cervantes, Sterne, and Nabokov
    James Wood, New Yorker

About the author

Helen DeWitt

Daughter of an American diplomat, Helen DeWitt was born in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in 1957 and grew up in Latin America. Abandoning a degree at Smith College, she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in 1979 to study classics. A Senior Scholarship at Brasenose College enabled her to get a DPhil and discover Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa and Mel Brooks. She left academia in 1988 to write a novel; she had 100 unfinished novels on her hard drive when The Last Samurai was published in 2000 to international acclaim. Her second novel, Lightning Rods, was published in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. She has contributed installations to Artists Space in New York and was resident and participant in the Plastic Words series at Raven Row in London. In descending order of proficiency she knows Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese. She is based in Berlin.
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