Man Booker shortlisted Western: The Sisters Brothers

Sometimes books find you. Sometimes you don’t know how they find you and sometimes you can pinpoint and map it.

I found Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers because Stewart O’Nan wrote a lovely “Nightstand Reads” post for The Seattle Public Library’s Shelf Talk blog. Here is what he said:

From the present, I devoured Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, a neo-western in the footsteps of Ron Hansen, Charles Portis and Cormac McCarthy. I’d say that’s good company—and it is—but DeWitt outdoes them with his choice of a moony, sentimental gunslinger for a narrator. It’s weirdly tender and wistful, even as the bullets fly.

Then, I came across Jonathan Evison’s funny, lively interview with deWitt at the University Book Store for the Seattle Channel. Patrick deWitt had such a great deadpan humor and spoke about working construction and other lousy jobs and how he became a writer.

Then, I was surprised to see that The Sisters Brothers had been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I was surprised as I knew he was a Northwest writer, but then learned that he was born in Canada.

The Sisters Brothers is a bloody romp following two hired assassins from Oregon City to gold territory in California in 1851. Eli, the narrator, and his brother Charlie have been hired guns for a mysterious man known only as the Commodore for years. Charlie is the real killer, who seems to get a real kick out of violence and throwing his weight around, while Eli questions their vocation but exhibits a mostly unswerving loyalty to his brother.

deWitt’s sophomore novel would be a great bet for book groups who like bloody stories with heart. Having read and not particularly enjoyed the 2011 Booker winner, Julian Barnes’ A Sense of an Ending, I am pretty sad that The Sisters Brothers didn’t take the prize.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

2 Comments on "Man Booker shortlisted Western: The Sisters Brothers"

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  1. I am discussing The Sisters Brothers with my evening book discussion group in May. They are an eclectic bunch, and I think it will be a fun discussion. There’s a great book trailer on de Witt’s website, too.

  2. misha says:

    Thanks, Brenda! I hope you have a great discussion. Thanks also for the book trailer tip. Here is the URL:
    http://patrickdewitt.net/video.html

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