Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues


Half Blood Blues is an example of how a reread can change lots of things.

I read the novel back in 2011 but I did not absorb a thing. In fact I don’t remember anything so I thought it should be reread.

I’m glad I did.

Half Blood Blues is a well constructed story. One that is about a jazz band who live in Berlin during the first year of the second world war and then they forced to go to Paris in order to record a song with Louis Armstrong. This does not work out and eventually the band’s gifted trumpeter is arrested by a band of Nazis’ and never seen again. The bassist of the group thinks he is the cause of the arrest and lives with the guilt all his life, until 1992, where the drummer receives a letter of the trumpeter’s existence and asks the bassist join him.

The novel is not told in chronological order. It jumps back and forth, between the years 1939,1940 and 1992. Edugyan is an amazing writer so at no point does anything become confusing. The book flows and, I think, it should be read in one sitting in order to get a feel of the novel. Wonderful sentences, memorable characters and, although the plot is slightly predictable, it is interesting in piecing everything together. I also liked the way the book ended, the way life is compared to a vinyl record.

The four star rating was because I did feel it to be a bit overlong and I could see some things happening beforehand but don’t let this be a deterrent as Half Blood Blues is one of those novels that should be read.