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The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

2.94  ·  Rating details ·  195 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Suspenseful and atmospheric, this extraordinary novel portrays both the hardship and grace in the life of a man struggling to realize his destiny.

When Samuel Tyne emigrated from the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1955, he was determined to accomplish great things. He excelled at Oxford and then came to Canada with the uncle who raised him, leaving the traditions and hard life o
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Vintage Canada (first published 2004)
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Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
i have figured out all the low ratings on this book. it is "sad." that seems to be the major complaint about this book. its sadness.


i mean, yeah, this is a sad book. a very very sad book. and for those of you who like books in which an ambitious character gets everything they want and ends up happy as can be with their family and their reputation intact, this would definitely be a two-star book for you.

because the reality of the immigrant experience and the demands of family upon a
Rebecca McNutt
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, fiction
I liked this book but not necessarily its pacing. It's quite a large novel by trying to drag out a story to the point where it just seemed dull and pointless. It's also a very depressing novel and though I love Canadian literature, it was weirdly dark and I don't think I would read it again.
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Here we have a story or is it a tale? Is it fanciful or is it real? Books, all good books of any kind are both and many more. The characters are real to us and because the events are not happening to us they are fanciful, even if it is based on true happenings. Oh and if ever you are looking for why not to dress identical twins in indentical clothing it's buried in here. But it wasn't just the twins that lost and were looking for their identity it was Samuel and Maud Tyne. We go through life for ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it did not like it

The story of Samuel Tyne and his family is painfully drawn out into a full length novel that should have remained a short story. Granted, I don’t even know if this novel started as a short story but I hope it did. A glaring lack of drama makes this book long winded and disappointing.

The characters between the covers of Edugyan’s book are deficient. They are deficient not in their ability’s or personalities in the story itself, but they are void of depth and substance. Edugy
It should be noted that my reviews reflect my personal tastes. This was a wonderfully written book, but it was too depressing to want to read again.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The language was excellent, and the context was interesting. The writer is very gifted. The story line was unrelentingly sad, with only the slightest notes of hope in the end. It is a story of people--and relationships--falling apart. Given that I finished the book in one day, there must have been some part of me enjoying it, which is why I gave it three stars, despite my initial inclination to give it two. I was very curious to find out what was the real story with the twins and what further ha ...more
Christoph Fischer
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The Second Life of Samuel Tyne" by Esi Edugyan stood on my bookshelf for a long time before I dared reading it. I liked Half Blood Blues so much, I feared it would not live up to it.
I must have waited long enough then, because I loved this book. Very moody and quite different in style this book takes us from 1968 Calgary to Aster, a small community in Canada, where Samuel Tyne and his family try to make a new start. The newcomers are welcomed into the community as much as one would expect, wit
David W.
May 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
I was very much looking forward to reading this book.
I loved Half Blood Blues
It seems to be one of those "love it" or "hate it" books
I struggled through this book, and when I got to Page 170 of 311 I stopped. I picked up the book to begin reading again and felt a sense of dread and blackness that I realized I could not go any further. When I say "blackness" I was quite serious. All I saw was black as I was reading the book.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm not saying it's not a good book. It was just really, really depressing.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jane by: 154
this book has a neo-victorian quality to it, to a point where when edugyen ends with some snarky and satisfying commentary on 20th century albertan politics it was a comedic relief.
[spoilers ahead]

a prairie gothic that lures the reader to flesh out each of its ghosts and to contend with the full breadth of bodily and spatial haunting, the novel dramatizes the enclosure felt against the Ghanian family in a formerly-Black prairie settlement. i found it hard to read at times, because the point of
Even now, long after I've finished this book, I'm unsure on how I feel about it. It was a very slow moving book, with both the narrative and the development of the plot and characters - it felt almost "sleepy" in how everything was expressed and told to the reader. It's also a book which I liked it, but at the same time I didn't - and I'm still not exactly sure why.

The story itself had a lot to it. There's Samuel, who has tried to start a new life for himself, hoping things will turn out the way
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: afro-centric
*spoiler alert*

I find it increasingly discouraging that this harrowing tale received such low ratings and negative reviews. The recurring theme I receive from these comments are the gloomy and dark nature of the book, and the under-development of the characters.

I absolutely adored this book. It is so morose and depressive and intense. There is hardly a moment of happiness and hope in the story, though I will say that I like sad stories and poems.

But there was such a beauty accomplished by the
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am the opposite of a lot of people who have written reviews about this novel. I did NOT enjoy her more famous work Half Blood Blues; I felt the ending was abrupt and displaced. However, I loved this one. It was moody and ominous but the highlight was by far the twins. If there is a flaw, it's the title because it was their story more than anyone else's. They drove the plot and intrigue. I feel that most people wouldn't have cared so much one way or another about the other characters but the tw ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This book is dreary and bewildering. I enjoy Alice Hoffman and Neil Gaiman, and I was hoping this book would be something like that. It has an old mansion and spooky twins after all. But the characters make no sense to me. Why are they so blasé about what the twins do? The husband and wife hate each other and there is not one redeeming thing about their personalities. Also why is the word "moist" used so much ? And why is the grass always "chin high"? I read up to page 180, stopped. The next day ...more
Victoria Nkunu
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
After reading Half Blood Blues by the same author, I was confident that this novel would be good. And I was proved right.
It is a simple story about a man who decides to start a new life with his family in a small town, in order to pursue his life long passion. Unfortunately things do not go as planned and a series of mishaps and conflicts set this family up for a tragic end.
Esi Edugyan tells the story well using simple language and references, making it easy for the reader to relate to the char
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. Her previous book, Half-BLOOD BLUES, was very good. This one attempts too much. Ir is a complicated due to the uniqueness of the setting.We meet a family that has been a part of immagration from Ghana to the Alberta Canada area.The author spends time giving background to the history of this and its effects on the life of Samuel and his family. There were too many story lines and they did not move the story.HE has twin daughters who seem to be brilliant but flawed . Th ...more
Leslie Reese
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I often fuss about about there not being enough narratives featuring non-stereotypical black people; yet, when I encounter a story like this one, I feel ambivalent because I still want the characters to feel heroic and colorful. I want the characters to have righteous comebacks for pushy people. I want the characters to be good parents. I don't want their children to be weird and unlikable. Esi Edugyan has painted a story of subdued personalities in a world both earthy and ethereal. It is beauti ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
I looked forward to reading this, as I had enjoyed Half Blood Blues by the same author.

It was a disappointment. While the description and figurative language was compelling in parts, on the whole it was inconsistent. Sometimes it was insightful, but at other times it seemed over done. It was very emotionally dark and the storyline bordered on the absurd. I would not have finished it had it not been on my book club list. I will not recommend it.
Shannon Bradley
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that has a slow moving story, but it keeps you interested from beginning to end. You get a chance to bond with each character and care about what happens to them. Except the twins. They are an enigma, as they are meant to be. My only complaint is not knowing which of the twins we are with at the end of the book.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Very well-written. I liked that this was a story about immigrants that didn't only focus on their experiences as immigrants. The characters are complex and sad with strong desires and live in isolation yet in close proximity to one another.

I really liked the community members in Aster: they made life in small town Alberta very vivid.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to JoAnne by: Susan Stevenson
"Maud grew humiliated,....and she despised herself for caring more about appearances than her children" page 21
"They did that, these women; pretended to console you while gathering enough facts to humiliate you at a Sunday luncheon." page 82
"-never, never, never accept the limits another wants to give you." page 197
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
I came close to quitting on this book. I just kept going because I didn't have another book handy. In the end I realized that it wasn't just okay, I actually didn't like it. The characters had no depth at all. They had so little dimension that when bad things happened, I felt no sympathy at all. Clearly not worth the time spent.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The writing is compelling, unusual, complex, and carried me along with the desperately unhappy characters, for whom life never gets better. And then it ends. Half-Blood Blues is also relentless in some ways, but it has some glimpses of humour and love of life. This earlier novel is a first novel, though an extremely accomplished one.
Eef Van
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dit was een bijzonder boek om te lezen. Een speciaal, wat mysterieus verhaal, met onverwachtse wendingen en goeie verhaallijnen. Ik vond het boek doordacht, goed geschreven en het bleef me boeien tot op het einde. Wat mij betreft goed leesvoer voor iemand die zich graag wil laten meevoeren in een mooi en tegelijkertijd soms hard verhaal.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a very strange book, one that made me feel I was being dragged down into the intolerable lives most of the characters were leading. I found the behavior of the twins to be unbelievable and even more so the non reactions of the parents.
Cheryl Swanson
I am struggling to get through this book. The characters are flawed and illicit very little compassion from me. I wonder if the struggles they experience in small town Alberta are a true reflection of the times or the authors interpretation.

Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this, if I'm honest; I read half and then flicked through to the end. There was nothing really wrong with it - it just simply wasn't my thing.
Gerianne Hannibal
Feb 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
much ado about nothing....
James M
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: x-ghana-x
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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...

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“She thought often of her own death, but without fear, loss having been her only belonging in this life. For years, acceptance had been her only means of survival. She knew that no matter how miserable or wretched life became, all she could do with her meek piece of time was sustain it. Decades of guilt, lost faith, the betrayal by those few people she'd let herself love - it was worth enduring these things, if only for the gift of a single, exalted moment. And such moments happened, even frequently, in the lives of people wise enough to see them.” 0 likes
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