For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world’s piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. “Look,” a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove “more complicated than they had first appeared” and “at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate.” In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt’s signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly “taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination.”
DeWitt pushes against the limitations of the novel as a form; reading her, one wants to push against the limitations of one’s own brain.
—Miranda Popkey, The Paris Review
An intellectual powerhouse, laugh-out-loud funny in unexpected ways.
—Ilana Teitelbaum, The Huffington Post
Her books assert (and often attest) that a work of fiction can encompass many kind of knowledge - probability theory, scatterplots of data, tables of non-Roman alphabets - without compromising its form.