“Though Half-Blood Blues is a jazz book, its greatest strength lies more in the rhythms of its conversations and Griffiths’ pitch-perfect voice than in any musical exchanges. A simple, one-word sentence that could be just an expletive — ‘Hell’ — becomes so much more as Griffiths watches Nazis march into Paris under ‘that dancing black spider,’ and his dazed account of a band of weary survivors coalescing around Hiero’s Half-Blood Blues is intoxicating enough to send you crate-digging through a record store’s back room for anything like it. ‘This was it, this was everything,’ Griffiths says with a delirious awe that nearly excuses his unforgivable selfishness. ‘We was all of us free, brother. For that night at least, we was free.’ If there’s a better description of jazz and its brilliant, in-the-moment power, you’re not likely to find it.”
LA Times

“History is at the core of Esi Edugyan’s brilliant second novel, Half-Blood Blues. Told in the jazzy patter of Sid’s first-person monologue, which makes the Nazis into ‘Boots’ and every woman a ‘jane,’ even the well-known prelude to war feels intensely lived in… Swinging back and forth between the eras, this book – which won Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize – is both lively and imbued with regret…”
Boston Globe

“Esi Edugyan’s excellent Half-Blood Blues sets its sights on the jazz musicians who flourished in Berlin during the cabaret heyday of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s and found themselves endangered after Hitler’s rise and Goebbels’s proscription of what he called ‘Jewish-Hottentot frivolity.’ … [A] tense, well-wrought novel.”
The Wall Street Journal

“While the rarely explored subject adds to the book’s allure, what stands out most is its cadenced narration and slangy dialogue, as conversations, both spoken and unspoken, snap, sizzle, and slide off the page.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Edugyan tells this incredibly rich story of music, politics, and personal betrayal both subtly and dramatically, unveiling the mystery of what happened to Falk as she exposes the tensions between the band members and the secret that has been gnawing at one of them for half a century…Edugyan’s novel mixes palpable period atmosphere with an interpersonal drama of great emotional depth. That narrow moment in time when the freewheeling decadence of Weimar Germany gave way to jackbooted tyranny has been the subject of much fine fiction, but Edugyan is the first to overlay it with jazz history. It makes a sublime marriage .”
–Booklist (Starred)

“A memorable evocation of the defiant thrill of jazz at a terrible time.”

“The novel’s surprising end, and Edugyan herself, are proof that the mischling experience beautifies art in all of its forms.”
Mother Jones

Read Esi’s interview with CNN