La Barbade, 1830. À onze ans, Washington Black n'a d'autre horizon que le champ de canne à sucre de la plantation où il travaille avec d'autres esclaves. Quand le destin frappe à sa porte, c'est sous les traits de Titch, un scientifique anglais, jeune frère de son maître qui le choisit comme serviteur. Wash montre un talent inné pour le dessin et une curiosité d'esprit telle qu'il est promu assistant pour le projet fou de l'extravagant inventeur : construire un ballon dirigeable. Lorsqu'un vent mauvais les oblige à quitter précipitamment l'île à son bord, l'aventure prend un cours inattendu. Du pôle Nord à la Nouvelle-Écosse, de Londres à Amsterdam, plus qu'un voyage, c'est un parcours initiatique qui attend le jeune Wash, en ce siècle de découvertes. Mais le chemin le plus dur à parcourir sera celui qui le conduira vers la liberté, une liberté assumée et entière.
Un disque de 3 minutes 33 secondes, c'est tout ce qu'il reste de ce temps-là.
De ce Paris occupé où trois jazzmen planqués pour échapper aux nazis tentaient malgré tout d'enregistrer un morceau. Sid, Chip, et Hiero, deux Noirs de Baltimore et un métis allemand, unis le temps d'un enregistrement frondeur, au nez et à la barbe de l'ennemi. Avant, c'est à Berlin qu'ils jouaient, quand l'Amérique marquait le tempo des folles nuits européennes. Avant que Goebbels n'interdise cette « musique nègre » et qu'eux trouvent refuge en France et rencontrent le grand Armstrong. Mais, parfois, il ne faut guère plus de trois minutes pour qu'un destin bascule. Un regard enjôleur, une ligne de basse qui dérape, des papiers qui n'arrivent pas... Alors restent les souvenirs, ces moments hors du temps qui font le sel de la vie.
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.
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.
In Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan 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 ...
Samuel Tyne always believed he was destined for greatness. Emigrating to Canada from Ghana in the 1960'S was the first step on this path, but fifteen years later his grand plans have stalled. He now has a wife Maud, twin thirteen year old daughters Chloe and Yvette, and a mind-numbing job. But then he is thrown a life line. His uncle Jacob dies, leaving him a grand but crumbling house in the town of Aster, and Samuel persuades his reluctant family to seize this chance for a new beginning.
At first Aster seems perfect, but soon the town's faultlines are revealed, and the family begins to feel the strain. Samuel opens an electrical shop, but the business falters as he falls victim to his own outlandish ambitions, trying to build computers when all the townspeople want is lightbulbs and radios. His wife is unhappy, and as for his daughters - they are drifting into a private world of two, their behaviour becoming ever more sinister and disturbing to everyone around them. When their school friend Ama comes to stay and nearly drowns in mysterious circumstances, and then a series of fires around the town go unexplained, Samuel and Maud must face up to the secrets within their own family, secrets that threaten to completely tear apart the life they have built.
Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. 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.
Winner of the Scotiabank Giller PrizeMan Booker Prize Finalist 2011
An Oprah Magazine Best Book of the YearShortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for FictionBerlin, 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. 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.