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Half-Blood Blues

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  11,782 Ratings  ·  1,413 Reviews
Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.

Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, r
Paperback, 321 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Picador (first published April 11th 2011)
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i'm glad this book didn't win the damn booker. that just means it wasn't a complete snoozefest. Vernon God Little? thumbs down. The Gathering? bleah. Wolf Hall? zzzzz. G.?? not his best. and from what i hear of this year's winner, the barnes? is not positive reviews, kiddies.

so i'm glad this book escaped that label, because when this book is good, it sparkles like a thousand year old vampire in the sun. and i was halfway through before i realized this was an authoress. not that it matters, but t
Gregory Baird
"That was why I come. Not to find a friend, but to finally, and forever, lose one."

The downside of being an avid reader is that you can go through a great deal of books without really connecting to one. It's not that you're jaded, just that at a certain point it takes more to really impress you. There are, after all, only so many stories a person can tell, so plots become cliched, characters become familiar. But every once in a while a voice comes along that makes you sit up and pay attention. A
Megan Baxter
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jazz under the Nazis, both in Germany and in occupied Paris. Friendship and betrayal in the worst of circumstances, when betrayal can literally lead to death. And then, years later, revisiting those haunts, those people, those betrayals. This is a really amazing book.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada
This is a mystery to me. It has some excellent ingredients, but it doesn't meld into a potion that has any power to engage, and I can't quite work out why. The narrative voice I found warm, the friendly banter between characters amusing, the historical background of interest and well rendered, so what went wrong? Why did I end up hopping an' skipping over pages and pages, merely in order to find out if my suspicions were confirmed at the end? Yes, indeed, I had a horrible feeling that was exactl ...more
Barbara McVeigh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is an extremely well written book—not surprising, I guess, since it was nominated for both the Man Booker and the Giller prizes. It took a period in history (the Second World War) that I care very little about and an aspect of that war that had never impinged on my consciousness (the Black experience of that war) and made me care very much indeed.

The story is told by Sidney Griffiths, a black jazz musician who is performing in Europe as the war is beginning. Sid is not a very likeable guy—
Jan 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

The premise of the novel is a good one: black Jazz band in Nazi Berlin...but it is TED I OUS...the plot is unfathomable, the writing is 'creative 101' oh, lets do first person...only it irritates the reader and fails on description and indeed, any form of engaging language.
After chapter two, I stopped, read a few more later in the book and the last chapter and was not disappointed - it went in the trash.

A poor plot, characters that do not engage, and only a page turned in so much as you long to
Jennifer (aka EM)
Dec 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: debra
Shelves: maple-flavoured
This book was ok. I didn't love love love it - I found it hard to get into (that could be because I was reading it amidst a house full of people, though). The language of the intriguingly-unreliable narrator seemed contrived (compared to George Rue, which did a better job of a similar patois).

I would have liked more music - she did a great job describing the first-person feeling of playing music, but a less good job really bringing the jazz scene in Nazi Germany / Paris in the 30s to life.

K.D. Absolutely
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Booker shortlist 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book. I even thought that it was even a notch better than the eventual Booker winner last year, Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending. The only difficulty I had with this book is Edugyan's writing style. There are some sentences that are verbose. Her choices of words seem to me as not exact even using my limited vocabulary as the yardstick. Lastly, there also seem to to be some grammatically incorrect sentences. I first thought that the slight variations to conventi ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1992 Chip Jones (a professional drummer) and Sid Griffiths (a base player as a young man) take a trip together back to Germany where they spent part of their youth during the beginning of World War II. They return as VIP's guests for the showing of a documentary based on their fellow band mate and trumpeter Hieronymus Falk's. It highlights Hiero legendary talent but it also peripherally covers their entire jazz ensemble. Chip makes some comments in the film that appall Sid, maybe because they ...more
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Would this book be considered one about the clash of two cultures? 1 5 Mar 10, 2016 11:39AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan 3 23 Mar 04, 2015 06:01PM  
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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 se
More about Esi Edugyan...
“Folks think a lifetime is a thing stretched out over years. It ain't. It can happen quick as a match in a dark room.” 25 likes
“It's like that, I guess, when the past come to collect what you owe.” 17 likes
More quotes…