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Fiction Literary

The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

by (author) Esi Edugyan

Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Literary, Family Life, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price
    $16.99 USD
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2005
    List Price

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The first novel from the acclaimed author of Washington Black—an exploration of explores the sweep of history, the binds of blood, the challenges of middle age, and the pain of exile, witnessed through the experiences of one family whose hope blinds them to threatening forces that could tear them apart. 

It is 1968 and Samuel Tyne has lived in exile in the chaotic New World for more than a dozen years. Born in Ghana, educated at Oxford, Samuel was expected to accomplish great things. But the middling government employee fears he has fallen short of that promise. When he inherits a crumbling mansion in the small, provincial town of Aster, Canada, he packs up his protesting family, believing that he has been offered a fabled second chance—and this time, he will not fail.

An all-white enclave that was originally settled by freed slaves and runaways from America, the idyllic Aster feels like a miracle. But as time passes, Samuel begins to see the town is not the haven he hoped: riven by political infighting, a community resistant to change, and most disturbing, a number of mysterious fires that have put the townsfolk on edge. His family, too, begins to splinter. Stubbornly clinging to his ambitious dreams, Samuel finds the successful life he’s struggled to build is disintegrating around him, and a dark current of menace in the town is turned upon his family—that they may be too powerless to fight.

About the author

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Victoria, ESI EDUGYAN was raised in Calgary, Alberta. She is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of Washington Black, which was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Man Booker Award and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize; Half-Blood Blues, which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Man Booker Prize and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize; and The Second Life of Samuel Tyne. She is also the author of Dreaming of Elsewhere, which is part of the Kreisel Memorial Lecture Series. She has held fellowships in the U.S., Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Spain, and Belgium. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.


Esi Edugyan's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A beautifully rendered and haunting look at personal longing and family obligations.”


“Simultaneously sweeping and intimate, brutal and tender, high-spirited and desolate.”

Baltimore Sun

“Fine writing...engaging first work, reminiscent of early VS Naipaul.”

The Guardian

“A provocative thriller.”


“An elegant first novel.”

<em>Chicago Tribune</em>

“Edugyan’s language is supple, wry and at turns sensuous. This intricately worked narrative heralds an excellent new voice”

Chris Abani, author of GraceLand

“It’s hard to believe it’s a first novel...Competent storytelling abilities and deft use of language....A well written book.”

Los Angeles Times

“In this brilliantly written debut novel, Edugyan flawlessly creates and maintains a pervasive sense of hope loneliness, foreboding and futility.”

Black Issues Book Review

“Written with an assured hand, Edugyan’s graceful narrative belies the underlying menace that permeates her story.”

The Seattle Skanner

“Both familiar and exotic, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne is...a moving and brilliant novel.”

David Adams Richards, author of Mercy Among the Children

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