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Half Blood Blues

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011

By Esi Edugyan

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Format: Paperback, 352 pages, Main Edition
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 February 2012
Chip 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. The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero's bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there's more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero's fate was settled. In Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan weaves the horror of betrayal, the burden of loyalty and the possibility that, if you don't tell your story, someone else might tell it for you. And they just might tell it wrong.

Promotional Information

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011 and the Orange Prize 2012. From Weimar Berlin to the fall of Paris and on to the present day - a story of friendship and betrayal.

About the Author

Esi Edugyan has degrees from the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003. Her debut novel, written when she was 25, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was published internationally. She currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia. www.esiedugyan.com

Reviews

A superbly atmospheric prologue kick-starts a thrilling story about truth and betrayal... [a] brilliant, fast-moving novel. -- Kate Saunders * Times * Assured, vivid and persuasive... Impressively evocative of period and place, and an effortlessly involving and dramatically unusual second novel. -- Sharon O'Connell * Time Out * This is a wonderful, vibrant, tense novel about war and its aftermath. Its author has brought both the wartime past of a devastated city and its confident reinvention of itself in a new era to life with extraordinary assurance. -- Susan Hill * Man Booker Prize judge * Simply stunning, one of the freshest pieces of fiction I've read. A story I'd never heard before, told in a way I'd never seen before. I felt the whole time I was reading it like I was being let in on something, the story of a legend deconstructed. It's a world of characters so realized that I found myself at one point looking up Hieronymus Falk on Wikipedia, disbelieving he was the product of one woman's imagination -- Attica Locke Edugyan really can write... redemptive -- Bernadine Evaristo * Guardian * Mesmerising... Edugyan has a perfect ear for conversations and the confusions of human love and jealousy... moving... A remarkable novel. * Morning Star * Ingenious... -- Anthony Cummins * Daily Telegraph * A mature, moving second novel was very deservedly shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this week... Half Blood Blues shines with knowledge, emotional insight, and historical revisionism, yet it never becomes over-burdened by its research. The novel is truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and place, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang. Edugyan never stumbles with her storytelling, not over one sentence. -- Arifa Akbar * Independent * Half Blood Blues shines with knowledge, emotional insight, and historical revisionism, yet it never becomes overburdened by its research. The novel is truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and places, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang. * Canberra Times, Australia * Sid's voice... is a triumph of vernacular writing and convincingly captures the mood of the late jazz age in Europe... punchy and atmospheric. -- Edmund Gordon * Sunday Times * Edugyan has mastered the darting, dozens-infused black male jazz voice so well that you'll not pause considering whether Griffiths' or Jones' Baltimorean aphorisms or slang terms are accurate. Instead, you'll relish how Edugyan's consistent, arresting musicality, at both the sentence and structural levels, develops its own accurate truth about experience. Like Armstrong's famous cadenza opening his 1928 recording of "West End Blues," Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues is her royal fanfare, a rising flare announcing her literary genius. -- Walton Muyumba * Dallas News * Edugyan tells this incredibly rich story of music, politics, and personal betrayal both subtly and dramatically, unveiling the mystery of what happened to Falk as she exposes the tensions between the band members and the secret that has been gnawing at one of them for half a century... Edugyan's novel mixes palpable period atmosphere with an interpersonal drama of great emotional depth. That narrow moment in time when the freewheeling decadence of Weimar Germany gave way to jackbooted tyranny has been the subject of much fine fiction, but Edugyan is the first to overlay it with jazz history. It makes a sublime marriage. -- Bill Ott * Booklist * what stands out most is its cadenced narration and slangy dialogue, as conversations, both spoken and unspoken, snap, sizzle, and slide off the page. * Publishers' Weekly * Gripping... -- Mary Feely * Irish Times * Nimble storytelling ... Casablanca-style melodrama with healthy doses of quotidian banter, admirably capturing the bickering camaraderie of the young musicians. * International Herald Tribune * Lyrical and genuinely exciting it's a captivating book that races along with verve and panache. -- Emma Lee Potter * Daily Express *

EAN: 9781846687761
ISBN: 1846687764
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.2 centimetres (0.50 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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