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Half-Blood Blues

A Novel

Esi Edugyan

Picador

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.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Half-Blood Blues
IParis 1940Chip told us not to go out. Said, don't you boys tempt the devil. But it been one brawl of a night, I tell you, all of us still reeling from the rot--rot was cheap, see, the drink of French peasants, but it stayed like nails in you gut. Didn't even look right, all mossy and black in the bottle. Like drinking swamp water.See, we lay exhausted in the flat, sheets nailed over the windows. The sunrise so fierce it seeped through the gaps, dropped like cloth on our skin. Couple hours before, we was playing in some back-alley studio, trying to cut a record. A grim little
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  • Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Esi Edugyan's acclaimed novel Half-Blood Blues, narrated by Kyle Riley. 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.

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REVIEWS

Praise for Half-Blood Blues

"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

"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

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Esi Edugyan

  • 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.

  • Esi Edugyan Steven Price
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Half-Blood Blues

A Novel

Esi Edugyan

Cleveland Plain Dealer's Best Books of the Year, Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, Writers' Trust of Canada Awards Finalist

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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