2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Shortlist
Synopses & Reviews
Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.
Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.
Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.
"An assured and insightful first novel of displacement of fractured identity....This deftly constructed tale...of one tiny, befuddled corner of the African diaspora is finally about all of us — about the hope we have of being our best selves, before it's too late." The Globe and Mail
"[P]acks a powerful emotional punch... Fine writing, subtle characterisation and a convincing portrayal of place and period mark out this engaging first work, reminiscent of early VS Naipaul." The Guardian (UK)
"Edugyan's spare prose, visceral images, and unfussy dialogue create a suitably ominous atmosphere... The close,...stark in its avoidance of redemptive bromides, is astonishingly moving. A talented writer to watch."
Kirkus Reviews (US)
"With Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan has written a truly beautiful novel. With perfect pitch, and brilliantly in tune with the diction, musicality, suffering and dignity of Black jazz musicians trying to survive in France and Germany during World War Two, and to hold their lives together in the aftermath of horror. It is both taut and expansive, like great jazz. Exquisite language, throughout. And did I say beautiful?" Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning The Book of Negroes
"The characters in Esi Edugyan's stunning novel bring to mind Mark Twain who understood characters like these... the language of Edugyan's narrative moves us with its intrinsic power, grace, and soulful jazz cadences. Half Blood Blues is an engrossing and unforgettable story." Austin Clarke, author of The Polished Hoe and More
About the Author
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
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, and has sat on many international panels, including the LesART Literary Festival in Esslingen, Germany, the Budapest Book Fair in Hungary, and Barnard College in New York City.
She currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia.