Half-Blood Blues: A Novel

Front Cover
Picador, Feb 28, 2012 - Fiction - 336 pages
608 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.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bucketofrhymes - LibraryThing

This book is absolutely entrancing... First of all, because of the subject matter -- Black jazz musicians in pre-war/WWII Europe. Second of all, because of the voice that it's written in. There's a natural rhythm to the prose, a perfect turn of phrase, that is absolutely a joy to read. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mattclark - LibraryThing

Tormented, jealous and grief stricken. Sid Griffiths is an ordinary person caught up in an extraordinary time with the freakishly talented Hieronymus Falk. Jazz players in the same band, Hiero is "the ... Read full review

Selected pages


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

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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.

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