The Sisters Brothers

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The Sisters Brothers
Cover image of original 2011 edition
Author Patrick deWitt
Cover artist Dan Stiles
Language English
Series none
Genre Fiction, Western
Publisher Ecco
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback, and Paperback)
Pages 325 pg (hardback)
ISBN 0-06-204126-6
Preceded by Ablutions

The Sisters Brothers (2011) is a historical novel by Canadian-born author Patrick deWitt.

The darkly comic, Western-inspired story takes place in Oregon and California in 1851. The narrator, Eli Sisters, and his brother Charlie Sisters are assassins that are sent to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, an ingenious and likable man, who is accused of stealing from the Sisters' fearsome boss, the Commodore. The series of adventures depicted resemble the narrative form of a picaresque novel, and the chapters are, according to one review, "slightly sketched-in, dangerously close to a film treatment."[1]

The film rights for the novel have been sold to actor John C. Reilly's production company.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The Sisters brothers are hired by the Commodore to travel from Oregon City to San Francisco to murder prospector Hermann Warm, who is described to them as a "thief". However, when they ultimately encounter Warm, who has developed a chemical formula that reveals the location of gold hidden in riverbeds, they decide to join his prospecting operation rather than murder him. Unfortunately, the formula is extremely toxic; Warm and his partner Morris die from exposure while panning for gold, and Charlie Sisters's shooting hand is amputated. The brothers are robbed of all their wealth, give up their life of crime when they go back to their temporary home, only to realize that everything was stolen. They decided to take whatever remained and move into their mother's house in Oregon City. Eli murders the Commodore so that they might retire in peace.


The Sisters Brothers was inspired by a Time–Life book on the California Gold Rush, which deWitt found at a yard sale.[3]


In the year of its release, the book was declared a winner at the 75th Governor General's Literary Awards,[4] held by the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as the winner of the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize awarded by the Writers' Trust of Canada.[5] The book also won the 2012 Stephen Leacock Medal from The Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humour writing, and was announced the winner of the award for Best Fiction at the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards. It also won the 2012 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction .[6] Additionally, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize[7] and the 2012 Walter Scott Prize.[8] The Sisters Brothers was number one on's Best Books of 2011: Top 100 Editors' Picks list[9] and, according to, was the top selling fiction book in Canada for the week ending December 11, 2011.[10]