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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,635 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Esi Edugyan Narrator: Kyle Riley Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2012 ISBN: 9781427222770
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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. Esi Edugyan's 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Unforgettable…Brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed. It’s a work that promises to lead black literature in a whole new direction.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “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

  • “A superbly atmospheric prologue kick-starts a thrilling story about truth and betrayal…[A] brilliantly fast-moving novel.”

    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.”

    Independent (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.”

    Toronto Star

  • A 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist
  • Winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • A 2011 ALA Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Library Journal Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Man Booker Prize Finalist
  • Writers' Trust of Canada Awards Finalist, 2012
  • Among shortlisted titles for Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards Finalist, 2012
  • Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Cleveland Plain Dealer's Best Books of the Year, 2012
  • Among shortlisted titles for Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist, 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jake | 2/13/2014

    " Really enjoyed this. At first I thought it was probably an overhyped book on generally "sexy" themes, but I was hooked by the midpoint mark and the second half was fantastic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 1/31/2014

    " Terrific insight into the jazz scene in Europe between the wars and the impact of WWII on African Americans in Europe at that time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole Mcgovern | 1/21/2014

    " This book is so much better than the description. I felt like I had read nothing like it before! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bernie Charbonneau | 1/4/2014

    " WOW! This is one fabulous tale! This was the Giller Award for 2011 in Canadian Lit. and has won numerous other awards and I must say very well deserved. I do not give 5 stars liberally, a novel must have a certain "grab" factor for my highest nomination, and this has it in spades. The flow and prose of this novel is so captivating that I was continuously using the annotations feature on my ereader. I have read a couple of Giller prize winners in the past (want to give a fellow Canuck props when I can)and found that some have been hit or miss with me but this book is real good, really good. Highly recommend! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Indiia | 12/21/2013

    " Incredibly moving, it stays with you. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruthie | 12/18/2013

    " Really interested and well written. Hard to find a completely original Holocaust book- this is a great one! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 10/31/2013

    " A jazz group composed of Americans and Germans gets caught up in the political events of World War II. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Claire McMillan | 9/7/2013

    " The 1st person POV is incredibly strong and engrossing. The depiction of these characters in Berlin and Paris on the cusp on WWII was new to me and felt totally fresh. The betrayl at the heart of it seemed real and anchoring. Written with aplomb, totally satisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mar | 8/12/2013

    " i enjoyed this book. very well written and quite engaging once i got into it. reminded me a bit of motzart and salierri. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terri | 7/19/2013

    " Fabulous book! Wonderful story that keeps you guessing on every page. Beautifully written. An absolute pleasure to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 12/30/2012

    " Did learn quite a bit about what life was like for these black Americans leaving the USA due to racism and heading into Hell in WW2 in Germany and Paris. But it left me wanting more from the story. Not sure I would recommend to fellow followers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 11/3/2012

    " Disappointing. The character were too enigmatic (or underdeveloped). I find't get much of a feeling for jazz either. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret Bryant | 7/11/2012

    " In part I enjoyed this book, although at times it was a struggle to keep reading it. Overall, left feeling so-so. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 7/9/2012

    " This is a full narrative that flips back and for th between a terrifying time at the beginning of WWII and 1992. The characters and the story are believeable. However, for me, the very ending was abrupt and almost as if the author ran out of words. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maryan | 6/17/2012

    " I was quite disappointed in this book. Character development was shallow, plot thin and style non-engaging. "

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About the Author
Author Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan has a Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, 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. She 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, and has sat on many international panels. She currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia.