By Esi Edugyan
Picador USA, Paperback, 9781250012708, 321pp.
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
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 cafe. 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.
"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