Patrick deWitt winner of 2012 Leacock Medal
April 26, 2012, Orillia, ON – Admired for its offbeat combination of neurotic humour, shocking violence and traditional Western storytelling, one of this year’s most-talked-about books, Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, has earned the 2012 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humour writing and TD Bank Group’s $15,000 cash prize. The announcement was made at today’s Leacock Luncheon at the Mariposa Inn in Orillia, Ontario.
Michael Hill, President of the Stephen Leacock Associates, pronounced the winner before a standing-room-only audience that included nominated authors, representatives from Canada’s publishing industry, honoured guests, sponsors and media.
The Sisters Brothers follows the exploits of two hard-bitten bounty hunters — the eponymous Eli and Charlie Sisters — through the trails and saloon towns of 1850s Gold Rush California. They track the enigmatic and ultimately tragic Hermann Kermit Warm, an incomparable prospector/alchemist who holds the key to a mysterious gold-finding formula, and introduce the reader to a rich pageant of bizarre and hapless characters. Interspersed with comic meditations on such subjects as the merits of one-eyed horses and newfangled inventions like toothpaste, deWitt’s humour finds a strange but recognizable humanity in the inhumane, an all-too-human absurdity in the coldly logical.
The other books shortlisted for this year’s award were Susan Juby’s The Woefield Poultry Collective, Rupinder Gill’s On the Outside Looking Indian, Shari Lapeña’s Happiness Economics, and Robyn Michele Levy’s Most of Me. Each of these finalists will receive a $1,500 prize, also courtesy of TD.
“As the 2012 winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour, Mr. deWitt joins an exceptional group of Canadian writers recognized for their ability to entertain Canadians,” said Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group. “We congratulate him and all of the finalists for their contributions to Canadian literature.”
The Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humour writing has been awarded since 1947 as a means to honour the “dean” of Canadian humourists and to perpetuate comedic writing in Canada. Some of Canada’s finest writers, including Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Mordecai Richler and Robertson Davies, have been recipients of the award over the past six decades. In addition to the silver medal, deWitt receives a $15,000 cash prize, which will be presented at the annual Leacock gala dinner, scheduled for June 9, 2012, at Geneva Park, near Orillia.