Governor General Literary Awards

The Sisters Brothers

Patrick deWitt

The Sisters Brothers

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. (From House Of Anansi)

The Sisters Brothers won the 2011 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. It was also a finalist for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2011 Man Booker Prize.


Excerpt:

I was sitting outside the Commodore's mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job. It was threatening to snow and I was cold and for want of something to do I studied Charlie's new horse, Nimble. My new horse was called Tub. We did not believe in naming horses but they were given to us as partial payment for the last job with the names intact, so that was that. Our unnamed previous horses had been immolated, so it was not as though we did not need these new ones but I felt we should have been given money to purchase horses of our own choosing, horses without histories and habits and names they expected to be addressed by. I was very fond of my previous horse and lately had been experiencing visions while I slept of his death, his kicking, burning popping eyeballs. He could cover sixty miles in a day like a gust of wind and I never laid a hand on him except to stroke him or clean him, and I tried not to think of him burning up in that barn but if the vision arrived uninvited how was I to guard against it? Tub was a healthy enough animal but would have been better suited to some other, less ambitious owner. He was portly and low-backed and could not travel more than fifty miles in a day. I was often forced to whip him, which some men do not mind doing and which in fact some enjoy doing, but which I did not like to do; and afterward he, Tub, believed me cruel and thought to himself, Sad life, sad life.


From The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt ©2011. Published by House of Anansi Press.