5 reasons you should read “The Sisters Brothers (& +2 you shouldn’t)

Book: The Sisters Brothers

Author: Patrick deWitt

Genre: Historical fiction, Western.

Year: 2011

Excerpt from the Goodreads summary:

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for.

Why you should read this book:


Image Credit: Goodreads


  1. You love gore and a proper “western”

While plowing through the book, I Googled for “Gold-Rush”, “Western Fiction”, “Picaresque genre” ( I bet you didn’t hear about it before, did ya? If yes, then I doff my hat to you) etc.

Isn’t wonderful how books open doors to other snippets of other cultures that have no distant relation with your own culture?

I mean during 18th-19th century my forefathers probably plowing fields and paying tax to colonial masters. Not riding horses and killing people with swag.

Anyway, I digress.

In case you love reading Man Booker Prize-nominated level of torture-porn and stuff like that, do give it a shot.

Book review: The Sisters Brothers


2. Anti-heroes make your heart flip

Eli and Charlie Sisters are ruthless (the latter infinity times more than the former), unhygienic, pathetic with women, out-of-shape and full of dry chuckles.

In case, you don’t need your male protagonists to sweep you your feet off with his charisma/charm but make your heart flip with dark humor, then ladies and gentlemen (and gender-nonconformists), the “Sisters Brothers” are there for you.


3. Period pieces hook you right from the start

Set in Wild Wild West during the 1850s, this is a gold-mine of digging out nuggets of periodic history in Oregon and California. I particularly love pouring through the portions on-

  • the dismay of working-class peeps towards dental hygiene in 1851


  • operating eye-surgery on horses ( caution: this portion is not for the faint-hearted ones, mind you)


  • the debauchery of gold-rush era nouveau riche and


  • the oddballs, the misfits the brothers got to meet along the journey, those who were the products of that era.


4. You love your book to be made into a movie (that too starring Jake Gyllenhaal)

A movie based on “The Sisters Brothers” is slated to hit the screen on October this year. Though I used to like the snooty-looking Joaquin Phoneix, I have a soft-corner for puppy-dog-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal as well and both of them are in this movie.

So to be a step ahead of your friends and in order to gloat that you read the book before watching the flick, you might give it a go.

5. The ending

In some Goodreads reviews, the readers complained about the climax falling flat on its face. But to me, it was brilliant, redemptive, coming-home and mushy.

That such brutal killers found the salvation at last on the lap ( not on literal sense) of their mother, felt at once awkward and brilliantly twisty.


And why should you not read it?


  1. ‘Cause the plot loses some steam in the middle.

The middle is kinda repetitive before the brothers met Hermann Kermit Warm and joined hands in Gold-Rush.

Before that it was the same looting-killing-whoring-boozing-meeting another loser-retching/aching- ailing horses, rinse and repeat.


2. ‘Cause I expected more from Eli

Yes, Eli I’m talking to you. In the end, you found your salvation, the ignition to rebuild your life. But something was amiss in your character arc. You could’ve fallen in love, (this time properly and not some infatuation fluff) for my sake.


Have you read any historical fiction lately and loved it to bits? Do share with me.


My other book review:

Call Me By Your Name





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