Lime Review - Books & Spoken Word
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
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Esi Edugyan’s second novel, Half Blood Blues, was on this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist,
and then went on to win Canada’s leading literature prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Given the British love of all things about the Second World War, it is surprising that this book was not to the fore more in the recent heated analysis of the Man Booker shortlist.
As an avid follower literature prizes, it seems that the annual cliché of discussing what has not made the list, has overtaken exploration of the truly original work that did.
Born in Calgary, Canada of Ghanaian parents, Esi’s novel is intricate. It tells of a multi-racial jazz band caught up in Paris as the Nazi’s arrive. The hero, Hiero Falk, is mixed race, African-German. He’s an effortlessly talented musician, betrayed by his black American friend, Sid, a less talented musician, who is able to pass for white.
The story weaves between time and place. Pre-war Berlin, occupied Paris and the Baltimore of the 1990s. Life between the wars in Europe, particularly in Germany, for black people, is a barely explored era. Esi’s research and imagination brings the period to life in great detail and precise tension. I hope more people will read this book and I look forward to more from Esi Edugyan.
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