Monday, November 7, 2011

"The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick deWitt

The year is 1851 and Charlie and Eli Sisters, the infamous Sisters Brothers, are travelling from Oregon to California to kill a man. This is what they do as professional killers. But this trip isn't going to be an easy one. Along the way there are many unsettling and violent experiences. And when they arrive in California they find that getting their man isn't going to be as easy as they thought.


The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt is a fascinating Western taking place in a time when the prospect of gold was enough to make a man abandon all that he has and knows, and when honour and pride are important enough to lead to murder. The book is narrated by Eli, the more sensitive of the two brothers, and chronicles everything whether large or small on their journey.


I'm not sure how much of the book stays true to historical details but that doesn't matter in this story. In fact, it probably makes the book much more accessible to readers who don't consider themselves fans of the Western genre. What matters is the way the reader will be drawn into this distant time in which many of us can't conceive living in. I know for sure that I wouldn't have made it very far in this time and place.


Eli Sisters is a heart-warming character despite his profession. At first the reader can't help but favour Eli over his older brother Charlie but as the book goes on and we are offered glimpses into their lives before they became killers for hire, Charlie becomes a character whom you begin to feel a lot of emotion for. And speaking of emotion, this book will provide it all for you - humour, sadness, empathy, delight.


Written in short chapters, this book is an easy to read, intriguing novel that will transport you to a different time. Right from the start it pulls you in. The Sisters Brothers was not only nominated for the 2011 Man Booker Prize it was nominated for all three of the major Canadian literary prizes, and has already won one, the 2011 Rogers' Writers Trust. It is easy to see why this novel has been hailed as one of the best books of the year.

2 comments:

  1. I was completely swept away by this one; I'm amazed and impressed by its wide appeal, and am curious to see which of the other awards it will win (here, this season, and abroad, as its reach extends)!

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  2. I loved this book. I read it mostly because it received so many nominations, and has just taken the GG now. Really different and compelling.

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