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Undermajordomo Minor

Written by Patrick DeWitt

  • 352 Pages
  • 9781487000509
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date September 05, 2015

On the The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2015 Longlist

A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners.

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. In the local village, he also encounters thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and Klara, a delicate beauty whose love he must compete for with the exceptionally handsome partisan soldier, Adolphus. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder.

Undermajordomo Minor is a triumphant ink-black comedy of manners by the Governor General’s Award–winning author of The Sisters Brothers. It is an adventure, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

Long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2015

Long-listed for the Leacock Medal for Humour 2016


Patrick DeWitt

Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of two critically acclaimed novels: Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


"An electrifying adventure, both tender and profane. Nervy, hilarious, and utterly unpredictable, Patrick deWitt has served up another dazzler." Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

"Undermajordomo Minor wears a fairy-tale cloak, but at its wondrous and fantastical heart lies an unexpectedly moving story about love, home, and the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world. Elegant, beautifully strange, and utterly superb." Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

"Patrick deWitt has an untrammelled and utterly original imagination. I cannot think of anyone else who could pull off so beautifully this controlled explosion of drollery, mischief , sly fun, and tenderness." Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others

"Undermajordomo Minor is a wonderfully wry and wise novel, and reading it is like coming across some twisted classic — Cervantes by way of Louis C.K. I marvel at all that Patrick deWitt is able to do on the page." Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins

"Undermajordomo Minor is brutal, brilliant, sly, absurd, and poignant. It's both gripping tale and hilarious subversion. Once again Patrick deWitt proves his wild, original talent, generous wit, and exquisite control." Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

"In his delightful and dark new novel, Booker nominee deWitt brings his amusingly off-kilter vision to a European folk tale . . . DeWitt uses familiar tropes to lull the reader into a false sense of grounding, delivering with abundant good humor a fully realized, consistently surprising, and thoroughly amusing tale of longing, love, madness, and mirth." Publishers Weekly

"... eerily precise ... DeWitt is a true original, conjuring up dark and hilarious images. This is a bizarre, darkly funny, passionate ... book." The Times

"with its blend of fantasy and gothic romance, Undermajordomo Minor sounded unlikely to enchant a literalist like me. How wrong I was. From its pitch-perfect opening onwards, it's clear from the unusual atmosphere and droll narration that deWitt has created a unique fictional universe….The challenge for the reader is to resist the temptation to devour a novel which should be savoured." The Independent

"Fans of The Sisters Brothers will rejoice at the return of deWitt’s wry, funny dialogue and over-the-top, almost slapstick violence." Metro

"Undermajordomo Minor is a masterpiece of wit." Toronto Is Awesome

"Undermajordomo Minor is deWitt playing to his dry wit, black humour strengths, but with a structure that skips along, delivering quiet mirth and repressed laughter in the face of absurdity we all feel in the attempt to start a new life." Vue Weekly

"Lies can be wonderful things, and when a lie is told artfully, if it’s done with a degree of craftsmanship, I can’t help but admire the liar." Patrick deWitt quoted in National Post

"there’s no denying…deWitt’s whimsicality and unfettered inventiveness…If designed as an entertaining showcase of dazzling creativity, deWitt’s pipe dream of a novel can’t be faulted." Vancouver Sun

"But the ceaseless, sparkling wit and originality of his latest…proves the indomitable deWitt can’t be undone by a few trophies; in fact by delving deeper into the absurd, he arguably takes bigger risk." Toronto Star

"Undermajordomo Minor creates its own earthy kind of's a wonderful novel that is sure to capture the imagination of many readers and awards committees." Winnipeg Free Press

"in terms of entertainment, deWitt is a master." SHARP Magazine

"a darkly funny twist on the traditional fable." Walrus Magzine

"a mashup of a Wes Anderson movie and Grimm's Fairy Tale." VICE

"Every reader should be able to find something to enjoy in Undermajordomo Minor whether it is the writing, the mystery, or the crazy characters you encounter along the way." Niagara Life Magazine

"[Undermajordomo Minor] is vintage deWitt..Droll, beguiling and slightly wistful." Globe and Mail

"Page by page, the book is often a hoot, brimming with winningly quirky characters operating by their own twisted fairy-tale logic." Globe and Mail

"By turns whimsical and macabre, fanciful and sinister…it is a journey of self-knowledge and self-realization, complete with sinister twists and menacing turns. It is a mythic journey from darkness to light, during which the hero accepts his fate and becomes the man he was destined to be. Moreover, it is a darn good read." Waterloo Region Record

"Undermajordomo Minor is an audacious fairy tale in the form of a novel. Or an outlandish novel as a fairy tale. Doesn’t matter. It’s a bold, genre-twisting narrative, worthy of a read." Winnipeg Review

"…a darkly funny fable" Winnipeg Free Press