Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan, Serpent's Tail, 2011, 319 pp
Some books I love while I am reading them but promptly forget once I am finished. Others are just so-so while I read but I think back on them with pleasure-usually because they end well. With Half-Blood Blues, it was all love, while reading and when I was finished. Now after several weeks have passed the story is still so vivid, I doubt I will ever forget it.
A group of Black American, White German, and one mixed race German musicians had a successful run as a jazz band in Berlin before World War II. They were decimated as a band by Hitler's ban on jazz after he declared it to be degenerate music made by Negroes and Jews. This novel is the story of what became of the them individually and as a group.
The writing is amazing, calling forth the life styles, the rivalries, the joys of making music, and the feel of jazz itself. Perhaps because I have spent my life surrounded by music and musicians, I fell easily into their triumphs and trials. Musicians are a special breed to me, each one being a unique combination of their artistry and a state of being "the other" to most remaining human beings.
In this tale, hearts are broken, trust is betrayed, lives are lost, dreams die. I experienced every emotion known to man while reading it. Honestly, I don't know how the author did what she did. Esi Edugyan is one of a kind, just like her characters.
(Half-Blood Blues is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)