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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Half-Blood Blues

The story begins in Berlin and Paris in 1940. Forced to flee Germany, and drawn by the possibility to record with Louis Armstrong, a band of black jazz musicians (the Hot Time Swingers) escapes to Paris, where they find that life is every bit as dangerous as it was in Berlin. Hieronymus “Hiero” Falk , a mixed-race German boy and the real talent in the band, is taken into custody by the Nazis. All that remains of the band's music are a few recordings. Over the years these recordings gather a cult following.
Fifty years later bandmates Sid and Chip return to Berlin for the premiere of a documentary about the band. Sid is forced to confront his role in Hiero's arrest.
It's a story about those we seldom hear about, those non Jewish victims of the nazis in World War II.
I have difficulties with novels written in dialect and/or slang and this perhaps made me slow to warm up to Half-Blood Blues. By the end though I found myself drawn in to the story and the tension between the youthful, vulnerable Hiero and the envious, devious Sid. Esi Edugyan has written the definitive Afro-German novel. I recommend it.

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