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Half Blood Blues [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Esi Edugyan
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2. Februar 2012
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 ...

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  • Taschenbuch: 352 Seiten
  • Verlag: Serpent's Tail (2. Februar 2012)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1846687764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687761
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 19,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 79.334 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"'Simply stunning, one of the freshest pieces of fiction I've read. A story I'd never heard before, told in a way I'd never seen before. I felt the whole time I was reading it like I was being let in on something, the story of a legend deconstructed. It's a world of characters so realized that I found myself at one point looking up Hieronymous Falk on Wikipedia, disbelieving he was the product of one woman's imagination' (Attica Locke)"

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Esi Edugyan has degrees from the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003. Her debut novel, written when she was 25, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was published internationally. She currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia. www.esiedugyan.com

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Musikergruppe zur Kriegszeit und als ältere Herren 25. November 2013
Von Rose
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Empfehlung von Freunden. Zunächst etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig angesichts der Sprache. Dann sehr atmosphärisch und wirklich interessantes Zeitportrait und Charakterzeichnung der Jazzmusiker. Sehr lesenswert.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 von 5 Sternen  111 Rezensionen
56 von 58 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This Gate be in the Groove 27. Oktober 2011
Von las cosas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Review of the book. I read the 13 longlisted books for the 1011 Man Booker, and this was my favorite; Barnes, the winner, was my second favorite.

A story told in parts alternating between 1992 and 1939/1940, the main characters are three black men who met in Weimar Germany playing together in a jazz group. Weimar life has been described (over described?), and certainly black US jazz musicians are an often glimpsed part of the background. But this book brings that world, or at least the portion inhabited by these three musicians, to the fore. Two of the men (Skip and our narrator, Sid) grew up together in Baltimore and the third (Heiro) was born in Germany. The parts located in 1939/1940 have an incessant and accelerating tension of claustraphobia and boredom mixed with hightened anxiety as the three, joined by other characters, hide out in Berlin and then in Paris as they attempt to evade the nazis (called the Boot). This is obviously not an unusual plot. But what adds a new twist is that the only two characters in any real danger are the blond, jewish, pianist and Hiero, the black trumpeter born in Germany. The US passports held by Skip & Sid served as at least some protection against what was going on, particularly in Paris. As the narrator said, their problem was that "we was officially degenerate".

Because they have a place to stay in both Berlin and Paris, and at least some protection, the tension of the war itself is often a background narrative, not the main story line. And that other story line is the friendships, betrayals and loses that accumulate as they play their jazz, trying to record the perfect take of a riff on a popular nazi song. As time goes on in Paris more and more is sacrificed for the sake of this album, which is never properly completed, though an outtake survives and later leads to a documentary film that is a focus of the 1992 parts.

This is not a jazz book, I certainly wouldn't call jazz a central theme of the book. But it contains some of the most lyrical descriptions of jazz playing that I have read. Describing the first time the three played with Louis Armstrong (who is vibrantly described in a short section of the book) the author describes how each of the three enters into and intertwines on the song 'Old Town Wrangler'.

"And then, real late, Armstrong come in.

I was shocked. Ain't no bold brass at all. He just trilled in a breezy, casual way, like he giving some dame a second glance in the street without breaking stride. It was just so calm, so effortlessly itself."

But the element of this book that made it work for me was the narrator. He is the quintessential every man. He discovers that he isn't a great jazz player, and he was willing to do anything, even betrayal, to be great, in the game. After leaving Europe he comes back to Baltimore and lives the non-glamourous life, working for decades as a medical transcriptionist. The book opens as he is invited to the Berlin opening of a documentary film about Heiro, and Chip convinces Skip to attend. The continual self-doubt and frailty of Skip is in contrast to Chip's bombast. But Skip's shortfalls are those of a person who has lived a full life and is aware that he has much to regret. The straight-forward narrative reads like someone being honest with us and himself. But throughout the book he, and the reader, learn that things aren't as they appear, and that our emotions color both our actions and our perceptions. The narrative, and the narrator, feel alive and believable. Even the ever annoying Chip we learn to appreciate, as you appreciate an old family member you never really liked, but have learned to accept.

The book isn't perfect. Calling women "janes" hundreds of times throughout the book wears thin, and someone who spent decades doing transcriptions, even medical transcriptions, is unlikely to write "we et in silence". And the only female character, Delilah, was not very believable or well sketched. But these are minor complaints.
51 von 61 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Blues medley--a work not completely finished 3. Januar 2012
Von Blue in Washington - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Interesting book, but awkward and unsatisfying for me at its end. In part the story of two black American jazz musicians and their German colleagues whose music and performing are suppressed by the Nazis in 1939 Berlin. Forced to flee to Paris, the two are joined by a Canadian woman working for Louis Armstrong and an African-German prodigy, Hiero Falk. From that point forward, the story is focused on the brilliant trumpeter Falk, who disappears into a Nazi concentration camp within a few months of the German invasion of France and is presumed to have perished as a consequence. Falk's short performing and recording career has nevertheless become legendary, and by 1992 he has become sufficiently interesting historically to merit a documentary film which draws on recollections by his former American bandmates, now in their 80s. .

Much of the novel consists of switchbacks between the 1930s and 1990s which center on relationships between main characters in their flight from the Nazis and the two American musicians returning to Germany for the viewing of the bio-documentary of their friend. These vignettes are mostly in dialogue form, and when they focus on music, they are quite interesting. When they focus on their personal issues and relationships, they lose clarity and meaning (for me at least). The dialogues are the only clue to who the characters really are. There is little or no internal perspective offered by the author.

When it turns out that Hiero Falk actually survived the Nazi death camps and is living in newly democratic, rural Poland, there is the inference that the story of his survival and life since 1945 will be explained and that his complicated relationships with the two American colleagues will come to some resolution. Very surprisingly, this never happens. The final chapter of this story just kind of sags into non-closure and the reader really has no clue as to what really happened to the musical wunderkind in the intervening 50 years.

So to sum up, the reader is easily drawn into the interesting scenario set up at the beginning of novel with the promise of knowledgable insight into the music and lives of the musicians under political stress.. There is the expectation that the highly original characters introduced at the beginning will grow into more open and relatable people as the story progresses. This latter development doesn't take place and the book's purpose and ending suffer because of that lack.
27 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Authentic depiction of musicians left adrift in pre-ww2 Europe 11. Oktober 2011
Von JCY 500 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The following is a review of the book, nominated for the 2011 UK Man Booker Prize. I had to order the book from Amazon's UK site as it was not yet available in the US.

Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues is an authentic and moving depiction of a group of jazz musicians left in limbo in pre-WW2 Berlin and Paris. The author has obviously invested a great deal of time in researching the realities of being struggling jazz musicians at that time, as well as the argot unique to the musicians. Her dialog always seems spot on, never forced, never contrived. Unlike some novels set in the milieu of jazz, Ms. Edugyan never strives to appear cool, but instead creates characters with individuated, unique voices. I would also imagine that she has a healthy respect for the arduous process of creating meaningful music.

The novel is basically about a group of struggling musicians, German and American. None of them have achieved commercial success, but are well regarded within their world. One of them, Hieronymus - Hiero - is clearly a superior musician. They record some sides of various tunes they're working on, but none meet the satisfaction of Hiero, who insists that all the acetates be destroyed. Unbeknownst to him, the bass player, recognizing the quality of the recording, secretly withholds one of the records. It's not till many decades later that the recording is widely circulated, giving the remaining musicians a modicum of fame and respect from jazz cognocenti.

The novel is given resonance through its setting - the horrors of the Nazi years are just over the horizon. The novel gains gravitas through depicting the daily privations of the musicians through the prism of the encroaching Nazi dominance, both in Berlin and Paris. It also concerns itself with the unique status of Hiero, German born, and of African descent, as well as that of the pianist, Paul, a German Jew.

Superbly written, gripping, with the alluring, at times chilling, backdrop of the pre-war years, as well as a believable plot twist, Half-Blood Blues,like the best novels, seems too real to be imagined. Highly recommended.
24 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Underwhelmed 31. Januar 2012
Von Literature Snob - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
As a writer, I'm admittedly a bit snobbish when it comes to critiquing novels. If I purchase an award-winning book, I expect to be impressed. I want to see elegant prose, interesting characters with whom I can empathize, and a compelling plot. I want an exciting reading experience in which I can't wait to turn the next page. Sadly, Half-Blood Blues did not do that for me.

Although the premise (the experiences of a group of musicians trying to get by in Europe during WWII) is interesting, the pace plodded in many areas. I found myself skipping pages and looking forward to the end of some chapters.

The characters were not quite developed enough to make me care about them. They didn't draw me in so that I wondered what would happen to them next. As an aside, are they jazz musicians, blues musicians, or both? I wasn't clear on that.

My biggest beef is the inconsistent dialogue of Sidney, the narrator. When he speaks to others, he uses the vernacular of an old-time, African-American blues/jazz musician. ("All these years, you been living here. And I ain't had no idea of it.")Yet, when he narrates, his descriptions of his surroundings and events are eloquent and flowery. ("Her voice was pale and splintered, raw, and then it was just a single, stunning wholeness, and closing my eyes I felt like so much was still possible.") This incongruency bugged me so much that I actually rolled my eyes as I was reading. It really ruined the book for me.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A brilliant new voice lights up a lesser-known corner of history 5. Februar 2012
Von Live2Cruise - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
This is a novel that deftly explores a lesser-known aspect of the Holocaust: the persecution of Blacks and German "Mischlings" in Germany during World War II. It's set against the backdrop of the jazz age, which has been effectively shut down in Berlin because the music is seen as "degenerate." The tale is narrated by Sid, and moves back and forth in time to unfold the story of a talented band and its young trumpet player, Hieronymus Falk. The musicians must struggle against the growing danger of Nazism, and each experiences varying degrees of safety in Europe based on their background and citizenship. One of the most endangered is Hiero, a German of mixed race, who is taken by the Nazis one night and never returns. Sid witnesses this, and a major focus of the novel is Sid's guilt as he grapples with what he did, and did not do, on that night.

The novel gracefully swerves from Paris, to Berlin, to present-day United States, as Sid tells the story both from an immediate perspective, and from the future, looking back. It's written in a rhythmic, lyrical jazz slang that reads almost like poetry. The prose is at times sharp and laugh-out-loud witty, and at other times raw and chilling. After about 30 pages, I was so hooked on the story I found it difficult to put the book down.

Esi Edugyan has that special something that allows the reader to live in the historical context she's created, right along with her wonderfully human, flawed characters. She shines a light on what it would be like to live in a world turned upside-down by hate, and explores what the average person would do when caught in an impossible situation in which death could be around every corner. Through it all the musicians continue to cling to their music, the one thing that still makes sense when nothing else does.

This is not a novel where everything is wrapped up tidy and neat. It leaves you wondering, thinking, and somewhat haunted by the characters and their story. Edugyan is an extraordinarily gifted writer with a very unique style and voice. Very highly recommended.
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