The Hot Time Swingers, a popular jazz band, has been forbidden to play by the Nazis. Their young trumpet-player, Hieronymus Falk, declared a musical genius by none other than Louis Armstrong, is arrested in a Paris café. He is never heard from again. He was 20 years old, a German citizen. And he was black.
Berlin, 1952. Falk is a jazz legend. Hot Time Swingers band members Sid Griffiths and Chip Jones, both African Americans from Baltimore, have appeared in a documentary about Falk. When they are invited to attend the film’s premier, Sid’s role in Falk’s fate will be questioned and the two old musicians set off on a surprising and strange journey.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the listener through a fascinating, little-known world as he describes the friendships, love affairs, and treacheries that led to Falk’s incarceration in Sachsenhausen.
Half-Blood Blues is a story about music and race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.
Man Booker Prize Finalist, 2011
"Unforgettable… Brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed. It’s a work that promises to lead black literature in a whole new direction." (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
"A superbly atmospheric prologue kick-starts a thrilling story about truth and betrayal…. [A] brilliantly fast-moving novel." (The Times, London)
"Shines with knowledge, emotional insight, and historical revisionism…Truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and place, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang." (The Independent, London)
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Sleeper: great book!
Slow start, but worth the time.
I would recommend this book to friends with an open mind. I don't think this is a book that mainstream readers would seek out, but it was worth reading!
Kyle Riley's performance brought the story to life. I really felt like I could see these men and the voices that they had (via Kyle) helped to shape that visual picture.
By the last half of the book, I was looking forward to driving somewhere so I could find out how it would end!
The dialect, names and slang terms were sometimes a little hard to follow.