Half-Blood Blues: A Novel (Paperback)
Sid Griffiths, an aging jazz musician, recollects his youth playing with Hieronymus Falk and the Hot Time Swingers in 1940, Berlin. Falk, an African-German "mischling" (half-breed), was taken from a cafe in Paris by the Nazis and never seen again, but a tattered recording of him survived and brought him worldwide fame. With unusual slang and a jazz-like tempo, Sid recalls dreams of musical success and a friendship tainted by jealousy. His story is overshadowed by fear as the war encroaches on their lives. Jazz music has been declared degenerate by the Nazis and after an unfortunate encounter with "the boots" the musicians are forced to flee to Paris where they meet up with Louis Armstrong and begin work on the monumental "Half-Blood Blues" recording. I enjoyed this book for its powerful narrative style and for its unique perspective of WWII Europe.-- Sharon— From Sharon's Staff Favorites
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. Esi Edugyan's 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 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, edited by 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. Her novel Half-Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.
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 lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
“Unforgettable…Brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed. It's a work that promises to lead black literature in a whole new direction.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“A superbly atmospheric prologue kick-starts a thrilling story about truth and betrayal…[A] brilliantly fast-moving novel.” —The Times (London)
“Shines with knowledge, emotional insight, and historical revisionism…Truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and place, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang.” —The Independent (London)
“Ingenious.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Destined to win a wide audience…Deftly paced in incident and tone, moving from scenes of snappy dialogue, in which band members squabble and banter humorously, to tense, atmospheric passages of description…Edugyan makes fresh tracks in this richly-imagined story…Half-Blood Blues itself represent a kind of flowering--that of a gifted storyteller.” —The Toronto Star