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The Sisters Brothers Paperback – 5 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083180
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (358 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Triumphantly dark ... The writing is superb ... deWitt has ensured another unforgettable pair their place in fictive lore' --Sunday Telegraph

'A blackly comic witty noir version of Don Quixote. DeWitt's story is hugely entertaining' --Financial Times

'Often blackly hilarious' --The Times

'An unsettling, compelling and deeply strange picaresque novel ... it has much to say about the business of being human' --Independent on Sunday

'A stunningly accomplished book. With this novel, deWitt proves that he is well on the way to greatness' --Dazed & Confused

'The Sisters Brothers confirms DeWitt as one of the most talented young writers around' --Sunday Times

'A powerfully realized work of narrative fiction ... the dialogue is sharp as a whip' --Times Literary Supplement

`A boldly eloquent adventure story full of sweat and casual violence about a man trying to live a better life' --Metro

'Bursting with vitality and driven along by a terrific pulpy energy' --The Herald

'DeWitt never misses a beat in what is a masterclass on the twists of the mind and heart'

About the Author

Patrick deWitt's Ablutions was a huge critical success. He lives with his wife and son in Portland, Oregon in the USA.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
I first heard about The Sisters Brothers when it recently made it onto the Man Booker Longlist - perversely enough, it was all the mutterings about it not being a suitable nominee plus some irresistible cover lust which made me even keener to read it.

Firstly, a word of warning...this is not a pretty novel, it's set back in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush when men were men and horses didn't have whisperers. There are scenes of cruelty, to both animals and humans, so best to move on if this would detract from your reading enjoyment.

It is 1851, the Californian Gold Rush is in full swing and our narrator, Eli Sisters, hired killer, is accompanying his older brother Charlie on an eventful journey from Oregon to Sacramento, to track down and kill one Hermann Kermit Warm. Their quest has an epic feel to it as they encounter a range of wild and wonderful characters en route, think Don Quixote meets the Coen and Blues Brothers with a dash of Cormac Mc Carthy thrown in for good measure. Yet, it doesn't seem derivative and ends up being a really fresh, original piece of work - defying categorisation.

Eli is a psychopath with a (slight) conscience and therein lies the conflict between the brothers. Even as he relates their latest killing in his usual deadpan tone, you know his heart is no longer in it and he longs for a different life, even suggesting opening a store - Charlie is not particularly open to the idea... Their story is compelling but unsettling, dark but humorous and so cinematic, you can just visualise their adventures rolling onto the big screen.

A very special novel which will entertain a wide range of readers including those biblio-butterflies who like a change of genre every now and then.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Tierney VINE VOICE on 18 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful book, even straight from the title (Eli and Charlie have the surname "Sisters" and are brothers). Eli is our narrator and he has an unusual, quirky voice. Set in 1851 Gold Rush West Coast America, the brothers are guns for hire and on a mission to travel from Oregon to San Francisco to assasinate someone who has offended their employer, the all-powerful Commodore, who - it seems- doesn't like Eli anyway.

We follow the brothers as they travel and meet people along the way and in towns. Charlie is fearless and brutal, whilst Eli seems more thoughtful and wants to change his life. His voice is clear and funny and the book is a real page turner. The brothers have multiple encounters along the way, some violent, until they reach San Francisco and must then track down the mysterious Hermann Kermit Warm. What they do to try and find him and the consequence of this lead to the denouement of the book, which I won't spoil.

This book is extremely well written, funny, intelligent, thought-provoking, philsophical and also what seemed to me to be a faithful recreation of the gold rush atmosphere. I felt as though the dialogue was authentic and there are nice turns of phrase. I could picture scene after scene and I think this reflects well on the author's skills.

If you are not sure about whether to buy this book, I urge you to do so as I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback
It can be hard reading (and then reviewing) a highly acclaimed book, particularly if you find your own opinion of it contrary to everybody else's. I had wanted to read 'The Sisters Brothers' since before it was longlisted for the Booker prize; its subsequent acclaim had me anticipating something special. Whilst in no way a bad book, I found 'TSB' to be a pedestrian tale. A tale well told, but one that failed to deliver on its promise.

The novel is narrated by Eli Sisters, one half of the notorious Sisters Brothers, murderous enforcers for an unseen crime baron called 'The Commodore'. Eli and Charlie are travelling to California, to track down Herman Warm. Warm has irritated their employer, and Eli and Charlie have been dispatched to ensure he doesn't do it again.

The period and setting are well constructed. deWitt conveys the openness of the wild west well, but what really stands out is the sense of lawlessness. Unlike most depictions of the Gold Rush era deWitt's contains no glamour; it is survival of the fittest. The strongest takes what it wants from the weak, and the weak die. The motto of almost everybody in the book is 'Get rich or die tryin'.

The novel's characters, particularly Eli, are well drawn. Charlie is a ruthless killer, Eli is on the surface a brute; violent and quick to anger, but he has another side. Eli is a dangerous man, but he is also a thinker, and he does not like what he has become. The novel explores his inner turmoil as he tries to transcend his circumstances and lead a better life. Although the style, settings and characters are entirely different, I found 'TSB' curiously reminiscent of 'Great Expectations'.

The story essentially follows Eli's pitiful attempts to change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 May 2014
Format: Paperback
This has come up as our next book group read which I am more than glad about as this is one of my personal favourites. Personally I think Patrick deWitt was robbed of the Booker in 2011; this book really should have been the winner. Anyway, to the story, this is a picaresque Western, but really there is so much here that you do wonder how the author manages to condense this into a book of this size.

It is 1851 and the notorious Sisters brothers, Charlie and Eli, are about to ride out of Oregon City on another job for the Commodore, taking them into California. The notoriety of these brothers precedes them as they ride out to enforce the Commodore’s plans, but will the Sisters brothers manage to add another notch to their legends? Narrated by Eli Sisters we are guided through their journey. What soon strikes you is that although many people refer to these two brothers as psychopaths or sociopaths after reading this, they don’t really fall that comfortably into either category, and although they show tendencies you do feel like that being friends with the Sisters brothers would be much better than other real people I can think of.

Filled with humour there is so much more here, as the brothers start to question what they do for the Commodore, after all are they being that righteous, or are they being used to increase someone else’s power base? With the comedy here this is also bittersweet, and very thoughtful. What immediately strikes you here is the language, which is very polite really and older than the period would warrant, after all there should be quite a bit of cursing and swearing here which there is not, giving it a slightly surreal feeling.
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