Monday, 26 September 2011

Book #84 Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Half Blood Blues

The second to last of the Booker shortlist I had yet to read; Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues is a story of of a group of jazz musicians and their associates in the 1990's and during their heyday in wartime Europe.

In Paris, 1941 Sidney Griffiths goes to buy cigarettes and have a glass of milk with fellow musician Hieronymus Falk, who is considered to be a musical genius. Problem is, Falk is black and when Sidney steps out to the toilet Falk is arrested by Nazi soldiers, he is deported and never seen again.

Flashforward some 50 years and Sidney Griffiths and childhood friend and fellow musician Chip Jones are old and enjoy something of a 'Buena Vista Social Club' style status. Jones persuades Sid, who lives quietly in Baltimore to attend a conference in Berlin celebrating Falk. Once there, he publicly accuses Sid of being to blame for what happened to Falk. But is he right?

I think my main problem with Half Blood Blues is that I struggled to engage with the characters, any of them, and whilst I saw merit in it, it wasn't really my cup of tea. The ending is also a bit quick, and a bit weak. The writing there could have used a strong flourish, an important closing statement, but it falls flat.

This is a short review because I can't think of many aspects I want to delve in and discuss. This book has strong reviews on Amazon but I'm afraid it just wasn't my scene. It may be to other peoples taste however

Oddly though, it is another story about making a selfish choice or mistake that then had  massive repercussions for all those involved which has proved to be something of a theme for the Booker this year, alongside A Sense Of An Ending and A Cupboard Full Of Coats. This book has nothing on The Stranger's Child really, and I would have preferred to have seen that on the shortlist and not this. 6/10

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