Winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, short-listed for the 2011 Governor General's Award for Fiction
Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black.
Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero's fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris – where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance – Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of the resistance. Half-Blood Blues, the second novel by an exceptionally talented young writer, is an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.
...when Edugyan writes about the music, you can feel it vibrating in your bones.
Her style is deceptively conversational and easy, but with the simultaneous exuberance and discipline of a true prodigy.
...a stunning, powerful read, a compelling story brilliantly told.
Half-Blood Blues is an engrossing and unforgettable story.
... surprisingly bouyant. It's deftly paced in incident and tone, moving from scenes of snappy dialogue...to tense, atmospheric passages of description... Half-Blood Blues itself represents a kind of flowering -- that of a gifted storyteller.
Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan has written a truly beautiful novel.
Half-Blood Blues... is a stunningly good novel about a time in music that still resonates today. Punctuated with the beat of jazz, it has moments of sheer magic.
...Half-Blood Blues has one of the most beautiful and understated resolutions in recent Canadian literature.
Half-Blood Blues can be compared to a jazz symphony with discrete movements, shifting moods and a complex chorus of human and instrumental voices: It swings between present and past, North and South, East and West, black and white, art and violence, war and peace... Edugyan's musically educated ear allows her to transpose notes into words and back again... a brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed novel.
...Edugyan draws us into the story with brilliant cadence to her writing. Like a drummer counting down the beat for the band, Edugyan creates a rhythm in her dialogue that sings.