Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
A Novel

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Occasionally, however, Edugyan appears to struggle with this balance — the leap from slang to author-like eloquence sometimes feels too abrupt...And yet, in the final hour, Edugyan and her narrator seem to find their emotional groove.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

Man Booker Prize Finalist 2011
An Oprah Magazine Best Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

Berlin, 1939. The Hot Time Swingers, a popular jazz band, has been forbidden to play by the Nazis. Their young trumpet-player Hieronymus Falk, declared a musical genius by none other than Louis Armstrong, is arrested in a Paris café. He is never heard from again. He was twenty years old, a German citizen. And he was black.

Berlin, 1952. Falk is a jazz legend. Hot Time Swingers band members Sid Griffiths and Chip Jones, both African Americans from Baltimore, have appeared in a documentary about Falk. When they are invited to attend the film's premier, Sid's role in Falk's fate will be questioned and the two old musicians set off on a surprising and strange journey.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world as he describes the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that led to Falk's incarceration in Sachsenhausen. Half-Blood Blues is a story about music and race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

 

About Esi Edugyan

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Esi Edugyan has a Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003, ed. Joyce Carol Oates, and Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing (2006). Her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was published internationally. It was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, was a More Book Lust selection, and was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of 2004's Books to Remember. Edugyan has held fellowships in the US, Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Spain and Belgium. She has taught creative writing at both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Victoria. She currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
 
Published February 28, 2012 by Picador. 321 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Half-Blood Blues
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Chris Barton on Mar 04 2012

Though "Half-Blood Blues" is a jazz book, its greatest strength lies more in the rhythms of its conversations and Griffiths' pitch-perfect voice than in any musical exchanges.

Read Full Review of Half-Blood Blues: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Flannery Dean on Sep 16 2011

Occasionally, however, Edugyan appears to struggle with this balance — the leap from slang to author-like eloquence sometimes feels too abrupt...And yet, in the final hour, Edugyan and her narrator seem to find their emotional groove.

Read Full Review of Half-Blood Blues: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

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