Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Half Blood Blues

Title: Half Blood Blues

Author: Esi Edugyan

Number of pages: 343

Started: 28 August 2011

Finished: 31 August 2011

Opening words:

Chip told us not to go out. Said, don't you boys tempt the devil. But it been one brawl of a night, I tell you, all of us still reeling from the rot - rot was cheap, see, the drink of French peasants, but it stayed like nails in you gut. Didn’t even look right, all mossy and black in the bottle. Like drinking swamp water

Plot summary:

The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero's bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there's more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero's fate was settled. Half Blood Blues weaves the horror of betrayal, the burden of loyalty and the possibility that, if you don't tell your story, someone else might tell it for you. And they just might tell it wrong...

What I thought:

Half Blood Blues was an unusual look at the Nazi take over of Europe. It tells the story of some black jazz musicians who are caught up in the Nazi invasion of France. Of late there seem to have been a lot of novels that are set in two time frames. So there is the World War 2 element and the modern day looking back and coming to terms.

It was a decent read, although perhaps slightly overly long. I think having read some of the other books of the long list, it didn’t feel entirely original given that it was another tale of people coming to terms with the actions of their youth. I think reading this book independent of getting through a list would perhaps have made me feel more positive about it. It was a book that was worth reading but I felt could have been a bit tighter written.

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