Thursday, December 12, 2013

Half Blood Blues and Canada Reads!! Maybe

I am just about finished the second book on my list for Canada Reads. It is not really the time of the year to be reading so much and now I have to stop for awhile. Not cold turkey of course this being Christmas and all. I do have to get the other three choices read before January 9th when my Thursday club will choose our best of the best.

This description of Esi Edugyan who wrote "Half-Blood Blues" was not written by me since I have never met her. I did like the way this interviewer described her so I borrowed it for my readers.

Edugyan, 33, was born and raised in Calgary. Her parents, Ghanaian emigrants, settled in Alberta, where her father worked as an economic forecaster and her mother was a nurse. She is a petite, glamorous woman with a creamy, dark complexion and a mass of curly hair that she wears tied back in an unfussy style. When we met in Toronto in April, Edugyan, who was five months pregnant at the time, wore a lilac dress with an elegant cut that skimmed her body. She has smiling eyes, but her expression is enigmatic – she’s still more than a little wary of the ups and downs of the publishing process.

Esi wrote another book before this one called, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

A young man of great promise when he emigrated from Ghana to the New World in 1955, Samuel Tyne was determined to accomplish significant things. Fifteen years later, now a failed and insignificant government employee, Samuel inherits his uncle's crumbling mansion in Aster, a small town in Alberta, Canada. Despite his wife's resistance and the sullen complaints of his 13-year-old twin daughters, Samuel quits his job and moves his family to the town. For here, he believes, is that fabled second chance, and he is determined not to let it slip away.

I have not read this one but from this little blurb about it I wonder why it wouldn't have fit better in the Canada Reads contest than Half-Blood Blues. She had written a book between these two but couldn't find a publisher who would publish it. Hence the comment about her being wary of the publishing process. 

I believe that the response to Halfblood Blues will change her feeling about writing and publishing. Although it is not up to me to assume anything for her.

"History is at the core of Esi Edugyan's brilliant second novel, Half-Blood Blues. Told in the jazzy patter of Sid's first-person monologue, which makes the Nazis into 'Boots' and every woman a 'jane,' even the well-known prelude to war feels intensely lived in... Swinging back and forth between the eras, this book - which won Canada's Scotiabank Giller Prize - is both lively and imbued with regret..."
Boston Globe 

This book is all the good things the reviewers and the prize committees have said about it. It has been a weird read yet very compelling. I am very curious to know how Donovan Bailey is going to convince the other panelists that this is "thee" book that every Canadian should read this year. I found one reference to Canada rather amusing. One of the characters was in a taxi and not inclined to talk. The cab driver wanted to chat so when he asked Sid where he was from, Sid said, London. When the cabbie assumed he meant London, England, Sid said no, London, Canada. The author goes on to write that saying you are from Canada is a sure way to stop the conversation.!
 (I am paraphrasing here as my book is in another room so I can't check for accuracy. You will know it when you come to that part in the book.)

Not exactly a positive spin on being Canadian. I picked up a couple of other references where a character was referred to as half Canadian. But the book takes place in Europe with a bit of time in Baltimore. The characters are not Canadian and the references to anything or anyone Canadian are few.

But maybe that doesn't really matter all that much. Right now I am leaning towards choosing my winner with more Canadian content but there is much yet to read and I could change my mind. (Or have it changed for me.)


  1. Good for you on reading all of these! I finished the Luminaries last night around 11 pm and now can read some interviews with the author, as I was so enthralled with this book I didn't want to read anything until I was done! I may move on to your first Canada Reads one, but first I have to finish S! See you tomorrow night!

  2. We have Luminaries on our list for Saturday club. You mentioned when you started it that it might be a bit of a slog but it sounds as if you liked it!! I am hoping we will like it too. Saving S until the New Year!!

  3. So what do you give it, out of 10??

  4. Separate from the Canada Reads I would give it a 8.5

  5. My, she is beautiful!
    Perhaps "The Second Life of Samuel Tyne" wasn't as compelling as "Half Blood Blues, despite the Canadian content. I will buy and find out for myself as I think she is worth reading .
    Aren't we "lucky Canadian girls" so concerned with Canadian content...... not being sarcastic for once, I find myself doing the same thing in the Canada Reads challenges. However, can I remind you ( and me ) of the thrust and the inspiration for 2014 Canada Reads, and I quote the radio here, Gian (sp.???) said this years challenge is about novels that inspire social change, novels that can change minds, lives, and potentially the country itself. I'm on a roll here, stories of compassion, tolerance, humour, political engagement,diversity, reconciliation.....the stories our nation needs now!
    So we have to ( maybe) get over the Alice Munroe thing and look at a bigger picture ( or do we???). You may have noticed that I loved "Half Blood Blues", but will reiterate, I am open until all 5 are finished!

    1. Loved our bookclub discussion. Just checking to see if this responds as Carol or Anonymous!

    2. Found these Carol for January 26. Will look for the others and let you know. They seem to come later??

  6. I believeI am no longer anonymous!