Half-Blood Blues

Half-Blood Blues

by Esi Edugyan
4.5 32


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Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250012708
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 274,198
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.94(d)

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 (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.

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Half Blood Blues 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
joe11144 More than 1 year ago
How long since I have loved a book as much for the use of language as for the content of it plot or characters? Not since the Bard I think. It's all in the language. The changing meter ebbs and flows to match the dynamic of the drama. In a story based on music the language is the rhythm. You can almost see the broad smile, the whites of Satchmo's eyes welcoming you between the words. Bird's stacatto bursts and the languid baritones of Teagarden drip like honey when the tempo stretches. Sentences grab you and pull you along like a melody, sometimes a gliss, a riff, the pause exciting as the note. It is a nocturne, not just from Harlem but jazzed and mixed with Germany and Austria and a different time and place. But always truth ... jazz truth. Don't miss this if you love poetry made from music, or vice-versa. A rare treat. She will have to go a long way to equal it I think.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
In Berlin, between World War I and II, jazz was the thing. Black musicians flocked there and to Paris, fleeing the discrimination at home. One group formed then had members from all over. There were Sid and Chip, the bass player and drummer, childhood friends who came over from Baltimore. Ernst was a German, son of a rich and powerful industrialist. Big Fritz was also German, as was Paul, the group's only Jewish member. Then there was Hieronymus, or Hiero Falk, the band's trumpeter. Hiero is young, barely twenty, a decade or so younger than the rest of the band. He is also German, but most people would be surprised to learn this. Born of a German mother and a Senegalese father, he is one of a handful of 'half-bloods' born in a region where Senegalese troops had been stationed. These children were not accepted but shunned and singled out for unfair treatment. But Hiero has a gift; he plays the trumpet in a manner that rivals the king of all trumpeters, Louis Armstrong. By 1939, things had gotten bad in Berlin. The SS were everywhere, targeting Jews first, but also blacks and other minorities. Jazz was denounced as savage music not worthy of a true German's attention. As tensions mount and the men start to fear for their lives, a woman appears. She is Deliliah Brown, the singer in Louis Armstrong's band, and she wants them to come to Paris and play with Louis. After Paul is captured on the streets one day, the men decide to go there. Once there, things are better for a time, but not for long. Dissension starts to strain the band as members vie for Deliliah's attention and time to record. The group falls apart when Hiero is swept up and sent to a camp, but Sid manages to sneak out one precious recording, 'Half-Blood Blues' when he and Chip go back to America that makes the group's reputation. Hiero survives the war, but dies soon afterward. As the book opens, Chip and Sid are on their way to a Hiero Falk Festival in Berlin, put together by a German documentary maker who wants to reestablish the glory of those days when jazz ruled the music scene. This is surprising enough, but Chip has a shock in his pocket. It turns out that Hiero did not die, but has been living in obscurity for forty years. The men are reunited and all the old disagreements and tensions are resolved. Esi Edugyan has written a glorious book. The reader is transported into the world of jazz musicians, where the music is the thing, the only thing that matters. The tension and danger of the Nazi government is strikingly portrayed, and how it swept apart friends and families and whole generations of people. There is friendship and betrayal, sacrifice and pain along with a determination to survive and make the music survival. This book was long-listed for the Mann Booker Prize and is recommended for all readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although i have just recieved this bok it is as a fact truly an amazing book. So sit on back ,get this book while your at it ,and enjoy .
jldarden More than 1 year ago
I heard alot of praise for this book and looked forward to reading it. Sadly, I was disappointed. It had some good ingredients but just didn't gel for me. I found the characters uninteresting and generally unlikeable. Though the writing is well done, I had difficulty at times with the speech of characters. In some instances it was distracting. Also, I found the ending disappointingly flat. Can't recommend this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jack13152 More than 1 year ago
Transports you to a time and place so real you can feel it. Written in a unique style. Pure jazz rhythms of language and feeling. Hard to put down
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Punches alex in the face
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read worse books but i couldnt finish this. Just never got going.
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