Books of the year 2011: A D Miller

The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt

 

The picaresque structure of The Sisters Brothers (Granta Books, £12.99), Patrick deWitt's sensitised western, is bold and beautifully simple; the emotional structure lies in the modulations of Eli Sisters's relationship with his brother Charlie and in his evolving attitude to their life together and its violence. The novel is intermittently moving, consistently very funny and, above all, original.

Speaking of fraternal dynamics, this year, I returned to Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (Penguin Classics, £9.99). Like most readers, I expect, I remembered the Grand Inquisitor and Ivan's vision of the devil; but I had forgotten the strange passage that relates the elderly monk's story of a man he knew in his youth who had committed a terrible crime. It is at once eccentric and a pivotal part of the book - and the most haunting fictional exploration of guilt I have read.

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