When you hear about the Man Booker prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes, you might think about the U.K. and the British Commonwealth. In other words, a Portland-based novelist may not be the first to spring to mind. But here comes Patrick deWitt: a Canadian citizen, born on Vancouver Island and now living in Portland, whose second novel The Sisters Brothers was just named to the 2011 Booker shortlist.
The Sisters Brothers follows Eli and Charles Sisters as they make their way from Oregon City to gold rush California. Eli is a bit neurotic, and Charles is a bit of a sociopath, but they’re both hired killers, and they’re on the job. Their latest target is a prospector and inventor named Hermann Kermit Warm. The propulsive book feels like a literary mash-up of spaghetti westerns and the fast-talking screwball comedies of the 1930s. The violence is quick and unexpected, but so is the brothers’ banter.
Have you read either of deWitt’s novels? What would you like to ask him?