Half-Blood Blues: A Novel

Front Cover
Picador, Feb 28, 2012 - Fiction - 336 pages
600 Reviews

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.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Half Blood Blues

User Review  - Goodreads

More like 3.5. I did really enjoy this but found the to-ing and fro-ing timewise a little difficult (from the forties to the nineties) and made it hard to get into, together with the 'voice' of the ... Read full review

Review: Half Blood Blues

User Review  - Goodreads

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting Esi Edugyan, the author of Scotiabank Giller Prize winning Half-Blood Blues at the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival, and to hear her read ... Read full review

Selected pages


II Berlin 1992
III Berlin 1939
IV Berlin 1992
V Paris 1939
VI Poland 1992

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

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.

Bibliographic information