2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Shortlist
2012 Morning News Tournament of Books Winner
This entertaining and heartbreaking story is told by a fabulous narrator, Eli Sisters. Eli and his brother Charlie are hired killers in late 19th-century Oregon and California, and this is the tale of their final job. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Where to start with this strange little book? The Sisters brothers are a pair of killers-for-hire: Charlie, the hard-boiled pragmatist of the pair; Eli, the reluctant, sensitive softy. Assigned their next hit, the pair begins a long and winding journey which leads them in a wildly atypical direction: they befriend their "hit" and events diverge from the normal sordid path. Packed with quirky, dark humor and razor-sharp character studies, The Sisters Brothers presents an unusual treat: a pair of killers with whom you cannot help but sympathize. Just embrace the peculiarity here. Offbeat, idiosyncratic, and odd, this is one novel you won't soon forget. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
“A masterful, hilarious picaresque that keeps company with the best of Charles Portis and Mark Twain, The Sisters Brothers is a relentlessly absorbing feat of novelistic art.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Both homage to the classic Western and knife thrust to its dark underbelly, this novel has a quirky, deadpan exterior and a hard-beating heart; we come to see how men die and how the brotherly bond shifts but holds.... I was intrigued by page one.” David Wroblewski
"DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and, perhaps unexpectedly, moving." Library Journal
“DeWitt creates a homage to life in the Wild West but at the same time reveals its brutality.” Wells Tower
“A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir....Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths.” Gil Adamson
“A bright, brutal revision of the Western, The Sisters Brothers offers an unexpected meditation on life, and on the crucial difference between power and strength.” Kirkus Reviews
“Patrick deWitt’s narrator — a hired killer with a bad conscience and a melancholy disposition — is a brilliant and memorable creation.” Charles Bock
"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
"Cinematic, wry and mannered.... Just as much as The Sisters Brothers is about a killing, it's also about the difficulty of holding on to or setting aside all the things a killer has to convince himself of to make his life palatable." Philadelphia City Paper
"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
"Sharp and wondrous...[a] funny, oddly moving novel." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"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." Esquire
"By turns hilarious, graphic and meditative, The Sisters Brothers hooked me from page one all the way to 300 — and I could have stayed on for many more." NPR.org
"The brothers' punchily poetic banter and the book's bracing bursts of violence keep this campfire yarn pulled taut." The Onion AV Club
"A twisted delight...Familiar, yes, but never not fresh. Also: creepy and sometimes inscrutable, gory with multiple amputations, rollicking and wistful and roundly winning." Austin Chronicle
"Weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness... It's all rendered irresistible by Eli Sisters, who narrates with a mixture of melancholy and thoughtfulness." Washington Post
"[A] thrilling, smart and surprisingly touching read...visual and visceral...always compelling and surprising." BookPage
"A wickedly funny and innovative novel." Roanoke Times
"Two men in the employ of a man known as the Commodore have been sent to California to kill a prospector.
'It turns out, and I don't know why this is, and have at times wished it were not so, but yes -- we had or have an aptitude for killing,' Eli Sisters says, as he explains how he and his brother Charlie found their vocation, for which they are feared far and wide.
These are the title characters in Portland writer Patrick deWitt's new novel, The Sisters Brothers, set in Gold Rush-era 1850s." J. David Santen Jr., The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir...Honestly, I can't recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths."
--David Wroblewski, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
"A masterful, hilarious picaresque that keeps company with the best of Charles Portis and Mark Twain...a relentlessly absorbing feat of novelistic art."
--Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
"The Sisters Brothers is dark, dark, and funny, both ha ha and strange...and you'll love the characters you meet along the way."
--Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Patrick deWitt, a young writer whose "stop-you-in-your-tracks writing has snuck up on the world" (Los Angeles Times), brings us The Sisters Brothers, a darkly comic, outrageously inventive novel that offers readers a decidedly off-center view of the Wild, Wild West. Set against the back-drop of the great California Gold Rush, this odd and wonderful tour de force at once honors and reshapes the traditional western while chronicling the picaresque misadventures of two hired guns, the fabled Sisters brothers. The most original western since the Coen Brothers re-interpreted True Grit--you've never met anyone quite like The Sisters Brothers.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JAKE GYLLENHAAL, RIZ AHMED, JOHN C. REILLY, AND JOAQUIN PHOENIX
A BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
AND A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Publishers Weekly - Amazon - Hudson Booksellers - Washington Post
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.
About the Author
Patrick deWitt is the author of the critically acclaimed Ablutions: Notes for a Novel. Born in British Columbia, he has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently resides with his wife and son.