'The Sisters Brothers' by Patrick deWitt (2011)

The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt

Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers (London: Granta Books, 2012), 328pp


Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers is a good read, but its reputation is greater than the quality of the work itself. When appraising the book as a whole, the story is not all that engrossing. All of the problems of this novel boil down to one fact: it is too short to fully come into its own. The prose is spartan, and consequently the characters are underdeveloped so that we feel little or no empathy for their situation. Eli Sisters, from whose perspective the story is told, does arouse some feelings of empathy due to his attempts to better himself, although not enough that it compensates for the general lack of characterisation. Similarly, the plot breezes through its different stages, and in the end we know little about Warm's 'formula', or indeed any of the characters' motivations, if they had any at all. The catch-22 of it is that a longer text would have provided some much-needed depth of characterisation, but the story itself is not engrossing enough to warrant a weightier novel.