The Sisters Brothers

Paperback | October 15, 2011

byPatrick Dewitt

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Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and the Stephen Leacock Medal. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Walter Scott Prize.

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die: Eli and Charlie Sisters can be counted on for that. Though Eli has never shared his brother's penchant for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. On the road to Warm's gold-mining claim outside San Francisco -- and from the back of his long-suffering one-eyed horse -- Eli struggles to make sense of his life without abandoning the job he's sworn to do.

Patrick DeWitt, acclaimed author of Ablutions, doffs his hat to the classic Western, and then transforms it into a comic tour-de-force with an unforgettable narrative voice that captures all the absurdity, melancholy, and grit of the West -- and of these two brothers, bound to each other by blood and scars and love.

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From the Publisher

Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and the Stephen Leacock Medal. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Walter Scott Prize. Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die: Eli and Charlie Sisters can be counted on for t...

Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of two critically acclaimed novels: Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiaban...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 9.13 × 6.25 × 0.87 inPublished:October 15, 2011Publisher:House Of Anansi Press IncLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1770890327

ISBN - 13:9781770890329

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brilliant and compelling This modern western is a new take on an old style, and thank heavens for it. Endlessly inventive, and full of elegant whimsy even when depicting brutal violence, the story of Charlie and Eli Sisters' journey is impossible to predict and equally impossible to deny. You will love these boys. I am sorry it's over.
Date published: 2015-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I am trying to ease my way back into the habit of reading purely for pleasure and I am very happy I began with this book. Although I was unsure about how much I might enjoy the western theme, I was hooked from te very beginning. I loved the pace and never foulnd myself having to force myself through any of it.
Date published: 2015-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Very accurate to the setting. Gory at times but in a useful way. Very kafkaesque in its theme. Will make a good Coen brothers movie
Date published: 2015-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Sisters Brothers is a great read! I hesitated when choosing this book since it is far from my "genre" of books, turns out I absolutely loved it. It was interesting and witty, I will surely buy Patrick DeWitt's "Ablutions"! Great read!
Date published: 2015-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What I surprise. I read thing one to see how it could possibly have been nominated for so many awards. I was so pleasantly surprised. What a good read.
Date published: 2014-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reader Unique writing. Takes a while to catch the book's rhythm. But once you do ..enthralling!
Date published: 2014-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Sisters Brothers I very much enjoyed reading this book. I found the cadence of the dialogue perfecting reflected the slow time of this age, and the complex relationships particularly the 2 brothers. When you finally meet their mother she is just what you expect, saddened at their line of work, demanding full respect from her boys and with a fear they will end up like their father. Even though the work the boys chose to do in life was violent, it was refreshing to see them respectful of everyone. Even the men they were hired to kill.
Date published: 2014-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy The writing was actually decent and to the point, the chaptersbreaks are short which makes it a good read for when you're on the go. The brothers and the characters they run into are pretty interesting. Overall this was an easy read and bc of it I think this would make a quirkyartsy western someday.
Date published: 2014-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! I thought this book was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story of the Sisters brothers grabbed me and flowed seamlessly through to the ending. My only problem was that I didn't want it to end! I would be very happy if the author wrote a sequel.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers is a great read : It is filled with twists and turns. Although not a fan of westerns, I could not put it down. Definitely a "must-read"!
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! One of the finest books I’ve read in recent years. The Western setting may put some people off, but I urge you to put that reserve aside. It reads somewhat like one of the better Coen Brothers films, with a tone of voice and depth of character that completely immerses you. I read it through in every available minute of my spare time and am about to read it again.
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story Page turning, western story, haphazard outlaws
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well written An excellent read!
Date published: 2013-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well written In Sisters Brothers DeWitt has created a thoroughly enjoyable Western that suits a contemporary reader. The Sisters brothers are a duo that I was easily able to picture and set in the time and world that DeWitt creates in the novel, and I found myself recalling them and their mis(adventures) long after I finished the book. This is a novel not for the faint of heart. My only wish is that it had been longer.
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, bad and ugly O brother where art thou meets deadwood. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the writing style which I found to be uniquely brilliant.
Date published: 2013-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brothers Excellent. What a good novel. Definitely a must buy
Date published: 2013-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put this one down Loved this book! Picked it up to fill an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon and then couldn’t put it down. Eli, an unlikely gunslinger, with his tireless search for love and deadpan humour, is an engaging character in an awkward predicament. Add to that the relatable family dynamic in his relationship with his brother Charlie, and I found myself immediately and completely pulled into the world of the Gold Rush and the Wild Wild West! Can’t wait to see what DeWitt comes up with next.
Date published: 2013-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wild West Winner! Two brothers, both hired assassins, set out to kill a man suspected of stealing from their boss. Their mission takes them from the dusty roads of Oregon to a mining town in California in the late 1800’s. Charlie is a hardened no-nonsense criminal while Eli is sentimental and longs to settle down into a normal life. I thoroughly enjoyed the trials and tribulations of Charlie and Eli and the moral dilemmas they experience along their journey. Masterfully written and compelling.
Date published: 2013-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A page turner Just finished. A breathless romp through the wild west with a couple of maniacal bros
Date published: 2013-05-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strange A really odd book. No beginning or end. Just a middle.
Date published: 2013-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great novel Quick and light read. A refreshing insightful take on the old west. Recommend it for any one who likes this sort of thing
Date published: 2013-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absorbing and unexpected. This was quite a good read and wasn't predictable at all. A good read.
Date published: 2013-03-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Such high hopes but no I look forward to the movie. Hated reading the book, just kept expecting the movie. Glad it is done.
Date published: 2013-02-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horribly Bizarre I hated this book. I didn't find I became invested in the characters at all, and found the writing style very choppy, like the story didn't flow much at all. I had to force myself to finish it.
Date published: 2012-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tally-ho, well not really but it keeps with the Western theme... Get your cowboy hat and your stirrups on, as you will be traveling horse-style from Oregon City to San Francisco in the 1800s. You meet Eli and Charlie, in a profession that gunslinger don't take lightly. The story unfolds and you feel like you a rider with them as you get Eli's point of view of life, love and revenge. Beautifully written
Date published: 2012-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best Though 'iffy' about buying this book since I don't like westerns, I loved this story. I gave it to several family and friends, all of different reading tastes, and they all liked it. Seems one of those treasures that you can enjoy from many points of view. The book blurbs tell it best, but Patrick deWitt has woven a terrific tale here.
Date published: 2012-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really liked it I did not think that I would like a Western. It is not a genre that I care for. I decided to take a walk on the wild side and give this book a shot and I am glad I did. The book was fascinating and I loved that the characters were more than one dimensional.
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well Written Western Did you ever wonder what it was like to live through the eyes of one of those westerns we see on TV? Descriptions of this book describe 'true grit' and much more. I think the author did a wonderful job of entrancing the reader in a western set back in times that we can only dream of now. The main character in the story draws you in to his depraved life and carries you on a journey filled with evil adventure and thrill. And the question is...how much will you like or dislike the bad guy?
Date published: 2012-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An incredibly enjoyable book I finally picked up this book after reading several glowing reviews in newspapers, not to mention the GG award. I'm so glad I did. It is a stellar read. The writing is masterly, the story absorbing, the premise unique, and the action non-stop. I would never have guessed that I could enjoy a "Western", but this was among my favourite books over the last few years. Read. This. Book.
Date published: 2012-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! I originally picked up this book simply because there was so much hype about it. I typically don't enjoy these kinds of books but thought to myself it can't be that bad if it won the Governor General's Literary Award. The book was awesome. I really enjoyed it. The plot was interesting. It had humour, sadness and suspense all rolled in to one. It's a very good read!
Date published: 2012-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different but amazing! At first I was weirded out by the old-timey writing style, which is not at all how I imagine dirty cowboys to communicate, but the style grew on me and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend to anyone. A nice easy read with interesting characters and a great plot! Don't miss out! It definitely deserves the awards it has received. Reminiscent of Of Mice and Men. Was sad when it was over!
Date published: 2012-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! It was really funny and the plot moved. It really didn't disappoint.
Date published: 2012-05-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Emotions I typically don't like westerns, but decided to give this book a try considering all the praise it has been receiving. The book follows the Sisters brother, a hire-for-killing duo, out another hit for the their superior named The Commodore. The story, often at a snails pace, deals with the interesting people they meet along their journey and the internal struggles of one of the brothers, Eli, in their chosen live of profession. The book is written in a poetic fashion that was amusing at first, but quickly became annoying after a bit. I simply did not find the book very interesting. Thus, it took me a long time to read. Nonetheless, I found parts of the book entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny. Hence, I guess like the main character, I had an internal struggle deciding if I actually enjoyed the book.
Date published: 2012-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WICKEDLY GOOD! I'm not a big western fan, I have read a few western books, but this one has definitely taken the ranks! It was so captivating and detailed! I couldn't put it down, I just had to know what was going to happen. The characters all mesh so well together and the charisma each one has is very gripping. Its one of my new favourites!
Date published: 2012-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Earned all of its praise This book is one of the few I have read that deserves every bit of praise it has earned. It is a quick read, and not once was I annoyed, impatient, or bored. I loved both the main characters and the tenuous, constantly-shifting relationship between them. Even the prose itself is a delight. I loved this book and look forward to reading more from the author.
Date published: 2012-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good story A very good book with plenty of action, humour and rich characters, especially the reluctant killer and main character, Eli Sisters. He and his brother, Charlie, a less reluctant assassin than Eli, are sent to kill a man for no apparent reason. The two men drift from one deadly situation to another as they search for their prey. And then, as they close in, Eli sort of has a change of heart, and the quest to kill becomes one of survival. Somewhat predictable, because there are virtually no plot twists, and lacking any real excitement in the end, this book still had enough to earn four out of five stars from me.
Date published: 2012-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A delightful read! I was very skeptical about reading a western but this book was thoroughly enjoyable. Funny, tragic and touching. The Sisters Brothers is like a really good Cohen Brothers movie.
Date published: 2012-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable This book was so enjoyable. I never read a western setting book before and I was surprised how much I liked it.
Date published: 2012-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting, Gripping, Human Western I can't say that I've ever read a western before, but this one looked so interesting, people have been raving about it, it won all of those awards, and I love to read books by Canadian authors. The cover also intrigued me - I love its simplicity and how striking it is. Even the title captured my attention. I found myself racing through this book. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect but it was compelling, interesting, well-paced and intelligent. So many reviews I have read compare this book to other books and authors and a statement on the genre... I don't know anything about that, I just know that this was an enjoyable, page turning read. This is the story of Eli and Charlie Sisters, brothers who make their living as guns for hire in the 1850s during the gold rush in the Old West. The story is told by Eli, the younger and more sensitive of the two brothers. One of the things that surprised me about this book was how intelligent and well spoken the characters are. The language is fairly formal, not what I expected. I also loved following Eli's thoughts and his discussions with his brother. Eli is fairly self aware and questions many things about his life, what he wants and how they make their living. The book is graphic and violent, but somehow it just fits. The violence is described, but not dwelt upon, the story moves on. This is story about violent people, hired killers, and what they do, along with some of the brutal circumstances of life at that time. Perhaps because it is all described so matter of factly, it doesn't seem overwhelming. There is also the wry sense of humour in this book. Like the violence, the humour is there, a huge part of the book, but not dwelt upon, but it also helps to lighten the tone of what could be a very dark book. It also really adds to the human element of the book. And I think that's what I really liked, the human element. The Sisters brothers are presented with their human flaws, the terror of their name implied and understated. The supporting characters also added a lot, painting a picture of the world at the time. I don't know if this was accurate or not, but I certainly enjoyed it and could barely put the book down.
Date published: 2011-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite Read of the Year! I was looking for something completely different to read. The Sisters Brothers is just that! I would call it perhaps - comic western noir? It was just sidesplitting fun for me as a reader. I've never read a western and never desired to do so. But The Sisters Brothers is very different from any Western that I've ever looked at. It is really well done. I've read some reviews that mentioned that the language was stilted - but that 's not the case at all. This is a genre bending western and so well done. The Sisters Brothers are a couple of cowboy brothers . Their relationship is sometimes moving and other times they have bouts of jealousy and disagreement. For the most part, Charlie Sister is violent without thought or compunction. Eli is also violent , but much less so than his brother. Eli struggles with his feelings and twinges of conscience, and is relatively introspective.Brother Eli Sister is a sensitive soul who decides to diet to trim down to be more attractive to the women. The entire books is so intelligently written and so much fun, I just loved it. Sisters Brothers is moving, comical, violent - and the writer does it so well!! I'm amazed! Initially I was very uncertain about reading this book but I'm so glad I took a chance . This was a total page turner for me. Sisters Brothers is just fabulous and so refreshing. The ending was the perfect touch
Date published: 2011-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fast Paced, Gripping Read The Sisters Brothers is the story of Charlie and Eli Sisters, two brothers who work as hired guns for a man know only as The Commodore during the California gold rush. Now, if you’re not a fan of westerns, don’t let that stop you from giving The Sisters Brothers a read. I’m not a western fan, I mean I like Young Guns and after much convincing to actually watch it, I loved HBO’s Deadwood, but as a rule I shy away from them. Despite being a western with a set timeline, The Sisters Brothers has a timeless feel to it (as Carey pointed out in the Read With Me discussion). The characters are interesting and relate-able, but not always (or even often in the case of Charlie) likable, which I think adds to the realism of book and is what makes Charlie and Eli really well rounded characters. Patrick DeWitt has a genuine talent for painting pictures with words. In fact, I found that the whole book read like a movie, as if I could really picture how everything would happen on screen as I was reading. I’m not sure if it would read like that for everyone, or if I had the idea of The Sisters Brothers as a movie on the brain as I was reading. Just before I read the book I found out that the film rights were purchased by John C. Rielly’s production company. The chapters in The Sisters Brothers are really short and the story is fast paced, which makes for a pretty fast read. If you’re looking for an interesting, well researched and compassionate book, The Sisters Brothers is for you! I highly recommend giving it a read, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read it before the movie comes out.
Date published: 2011-10-23

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Editorial Reviews

"[Patrick] DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and perhaps unexpectedly, moving." - Publishers Weekly". . . a lushly voiced picaresque story . . . It's a kind of True Grit told by Tom Waits." - Tom Chiarella, Esquire". . . smooth and seamless, shot through with dark humor . . . as easy to slip into as the old HBO series 'Deadwood.'" - Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times"I doubt very much I'll read a funnier, more original book than this picaresque, Wild West tale . . . a terrifically spun yarn . . . masterfully strange and wonderful . . ." - Emily Donaldon, Toronto Star". . . cinematic, wry and mannered . . . DeWitt['s] ability to distill an image with a couple of well-chosen words and the precision and intensity of his language gives [The] Sisters [Brothers] a dreamlike aura." - Justin Bauer, Philadelphia City Paper". . . imaginative and ebullient . . . revels in the hilarious life and times of two gunslingers, Eli and Charlie Sisters." - Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe". . . gory, mesmerizing . . . carries a strong echo of Pulp Fiction . . . seduces us to its characters, and draws us on the strength of deWitt's subtle, nothing-wasted prose." - Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer". . . a witty noir version of Don Quixote . . . hugely entertaining." - Stella Tillyard, Financial Times"Violent, funny and strangely touching, [The Sisters Brothers is] destined for a spot on many best-of-2011 lists." - Richard Helm, Edmonton Journal". . . [an] unsettling, compelling and deeply strange picaresque novel." - Jake Wallis Simons, Independent". . . spirited and often humorous . . . Patrick deWitt's picaresque narrative works with a wink and a nod of reverence, squaring with recent revivals of the Western in popular culture, namely HBO's Deadwood." - J. David Santen Jr., Oregonian"The Sisters Brothers has a cadence and flow to its prose and the reader can almost hear Eli's laconic narration as the pages turn . . . here is a hardcover that practically holds a Colt to your head and growls: read me." - Chadwick Ginther, Winnipeg Review"The Sisters Brothers is a bloody, nightmarish frontier road trip that seems at times like something out of Cormac McCarthy, yet somehow merges laughter and hope with suffering, death and betrayal. [...] Like an alchemist, deWitt has refined and purified the base metals of black comedy and the western to produce literary gold." - Bob Armstrong, Winnipeg Free Press"DeWitt has invigorated [the] well-worn path [of the classic Western] with wit, style, and imagination." - Jenny Shank, New West". . . wryly comic, heartbreakingly sentimental, and immensely likable . . ." - Georgia Straight". . . edgy and unyielding . . . The Sisters Brothers gives readers a sense of adventure without ever having to stare down the barrel of a gun." - Kacy Muir, Weekender"There is something irresistibly cinematic about this quirky tale, a Coen brothers-style strangeness that paradoxically celebrates an unlikely humanity." - Margaret Gunning, Edmonton Journal"So subtle is deWitt's prose, so slyly note-perfect his rendition of Eli's voice in all its earnestly charming 19th-century syntax, and so compulsively readable his bleakly funny western noir story, that readers will stick by Eli even as he grinds his heel into the shattered skull of an already dead prospector." - Brian Bethune, Maclean's". . . original, entrancing and entertaining . . ." - Robin Vidimos, Denver Post"In The Sisters Brothers, a diabolical combination of Laurel and Hardy and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (with a touch of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, just to emphasise the high literary stakes) deWitt has ensured another unforgettable pair their place in fictive lore." - Catherine Taylor, Telegraph"[Patrick deWitt] frequently crosses into comic territory to produce a story that's weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness." - Ron Charles, Washington Post". . . darkly hilarious . . . riveting . . . deWitt welcomingly reimagines the [Western] genre." - Joel Aurora, ZYZZYVA"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 . . . It's easy to imagine John C. Reilly - who is set to star in the film version of the book - lumbering through this breezy, pitch-black comedy's cinematic scenes." - Matthew Love, Time Out New York". . . fresh, hilariously anti-heroic, often genuinely chilling, and relentlessly compelling. Yes, this is a mighty fine read, and deWitt a mighty fine writer." - Michael Christie, National Post". . . hilarious, dark, twisted and compelling." - Dina Del Bucchia, Canada Arts Connect Magazine"Bursting with vitality and driven along by a terrific pulpy energy, The Sisters Brothers is the kind of book you may well end up wholeheartedly recommending to friends." - Alastair Mabbott, Herald Scotland"The Sisters Brothers is a bold, original and powerfully compelling work, grounded in well-drawn characters and a firm hold on narrative. When they say "They don't write em like that anymore," they're wrong." - Robert Wiersema, Globe and Mail". . . comic . . . engaging . . . the brothers' poetic banter and the book's bracing bursts of violence keep this campfire yarn pulled taut." - Christian Williams, Onion AV Club". . . a book that's both a heck of a lot of fun to read and surprisingly compelling when it ends -- one that both your hipster brother and your straight-arrow dad will get a kick out of." - Rob Thomas, Wisconsin Capital-Times"Patrick deWitt has written an Old West tale that conjures up the colourful images of a spaghetti western filled with stark realism, eccentric characters and black humour . . . If you're looking for an unforgettable western, grab this one." - Judee Fong, Monday Magazine"America seems anything but beautiful in Patrick DeWitt's quirky and ultimately touching new novel The Sisters Brothers." - Steve Whitton, Anniston Star"[Patrick deWitt] has taken the typical saga and, with laser-sharp prose, masterful storytelling, and an eccentrically perfect combination of humor, violence, lust, and pathos, has turned it completely upside-down. Never has the Old West seemed so simultaneously and page-turningly beautiful, tragic, and comedic, or a cowboy so delightfully neurotic." - Kathleen Brazie, Charlotte Viewpoint". . . gritty . . . deadpan . . . very comedic . . . opens new doors in the imagination." - John Vernon, New York Times Book Review"Fully invested, DeWitt is a hilarious, wry wordsmith and a masterful storyteller. The Sisters Brothers, with its sharp edges and instinctive compassion, is far from historical displacement or genre escapism. It is art worthy of the status, regardless of context or -ism." - Katia Grubisic, Rover Arts". . . a darkly comic, compelling and surprising story . . . I doubt I'll find a more entertaining and thoughtful novel this year." - Quentin Mills-Fenn, Uptown Winnipeg"DeWitt's inspired, many-layered yarn is as entertaining and as stylistically accomplished as it is unsettling and most original in its revisiting of what remains a glorious genre." - Eileen Battersby, Irish Times"... sheer brilliance ..." - Laurie Grassi, Chatelaine