Sisters Brothers (deWitt)

The Sisters Brothers 
Patrick deWitt, 2011
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062041265

Winner, 2011 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
Winner, 2011 Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it.

Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm's gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force.

Filled with a remarkable cast of characters–losers, cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells from all stripes of life– and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Awards—Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
   Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize, Rogers Prize,
   Stephen Leacock Award
Currently—lives in Portland, Oregon, USA

Patrick deWitt is a Canadian novelist and screenwriter. He was born on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and later lived in California and Washington. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

His first book, Ablutions (2009), was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice book. His second book, The Sisters Brothers (2011), was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and the 2011 Governor General's Award for English language fiction. He was one of two Canadian writers, alongside Esi Edugyan, to make all four award lists in 2011.

On November 1, 2011, he was announced as the winner of the Rogers Prize, and on November 15, 2011, he was announced as the winner of Canada's 2011 Governor General's Award for English language fiction. On April 26, 2012, the book The Sisters Brothers won the 2012 Stephen Leacock Award. Alongside Edugyan, The Sisters Brothers was also a shortlisted nominee for the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 10/7/2013.)

Book Reviews
[G]ritty, as well as deadpan and often very comic…DeWitt has chosen a narrative voice so sharp and distinctive…it’s very narrowing of possibilities opens new doors in the imagination.
New York Times

[deWitt] rides parallel to the trails of Jack Shaefer, James Carlos Blake and Cormac McCarthy, but he frequently crosses into comic territory to produce a story that's weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness…As the novel runs along, deWitt shifts the story in unpredictable directions, slowing the pace for a surreal finale in the woods that's touched with alchemy.
Ron Charles - Washington Post

A feast of delights in short punchy chapters.... Deliciously original and rhapsodically funny, this is one novel that ropes you in on page one, and isn’t about to ride off into the sunset any time soon.
Boston Globe

[F]ull of surprises, among them…is the quirky beauty of the language Patrick deWitt has devised for his narrator.... The Sisters Brothers is deWitt’s second novel…and is an inventive and ingenious character study. It will make you impatient for the third.
Dallas Morning News

If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, he might have concocted a story like Patrick DeWitt’s bloody, darkly funny western The Sisters Brothers.... [DeWitt has] a skillfully polished voice and a penchant for gleefully looking under bloody bandages.
Los Angeles Times

Wandering his Western landscape with the cool confidence of a practiced pistoleer, deWitt’s steady hand belies a hair trigger, a poet’s heart and an acute sense of gallows humor…the reader is likely to reach the adventure’s end in the same shape as Eli: wounded but bettered by the ride.
Time Out New York

Thrilling…a lushly voiced picaresque story…so richly told, so detailed, that what emerges is a weird circus of existence, all steel shanks and ponies, gut shots and medication poured into the eyeholes of the dying. At some level, this too is a kind of revenge story, marvelously blurry.

[Q]uirky and stylish revisionist western.... [A] frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm.... Charlie and Eli ...come off looking less and less like killers and more like traumatized young men.... DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and, perhaps unexpectedly, moving.
Publishers Weekly

[E]ngrossing...a gritty, unapologetic homage to pulp Westerns (with perhaps a nod to Cormac McCarthy as well). In the final pages, however, as the hired guns at the center of the story are forced by circumstances to rethink their lives, the novel turns into something much more philosophical, existential, and extraordinary.... It becomes, in effect, a different kind of novel, profoundly literary, and devoted to serious philosophical meditation. —Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT
Library Journal

A calmly vicious journey into avarice and revenge. The unusual title refers to Charlie and Eli Sisters, the latter of whom narrates the novel. The narrative style is flat, almost unfeeling, though the action turns toward the cold-blooded. It's 1851, and the mysterious Commodore has hired the Sisters brothers to execute a man who's turned against him.... DeWitt creates a homage to life in the Wild West but at the same time reveals its brutality.
Kirkus Reviews

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