04/26/2012 05:10 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT

The Sisters Brothers wins Leacock prize

Patrick deWitt’s offbeat Western tale The Sisters Brothers has won the 2012 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. DeWitt, the only man in the race for the $15,000, was named winner Thursday, beating four female finalists.

The Sisters Brothers won both the Writers Trust Prize for fiction and the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2011.

The Leacock jury hailed its mix of neurotic humour, shocking violence, and quirky observations about the human condition. Set against the 1850s California Gold Rush, the novel follows Eli and Charlie Sisters, two hard-bitten hired killers as they hunt down Hermann Warm, a prospector with a mysterious chemical formula for finding gold.

The Leacock medal, Canada’s most prominent prize for humour, was unusual this year for featuring four female finalists. Only five women have won in the 65-year history of the medal and the nominations often are dominated by male writers.

Each of the other finalists wins $1,500. They are:

- Susan Juby,The Woefield Poultry Collective.

- Rupinder Gill, On the Outside Looking Indian.

- Shari Lapena, Happiness Economics.

- Robyn Michele Levy, Most of Me.

The cash prize and medal will be presented at the annual Leacock dinner to be held June 9, 2012 at Geneva Park, near Orillia, the setting for Stephen Leacock’s humorous stories Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.