Berlin 1939 and Paris 1940. This is the setting for a story of music and friendship and how both can fill men’s souls, especially the black “swingers” who form a bond that lasts a lifetime. Amidst this pre war-time setting, The Half-Time Swingers, a German-American Jazz band forms.
It is also the story of a secret that lies hidden with Sid Griffiths for fifty years until he has to face his past at an unexpected reunion. The relationship between Sid and his childhood Baltimore friend Chip is the basis of the story and their dialogue (banter), in what one review calls German- American slang, is delightful to read, filled with witticisms and wisdom. For example, “Ain’t no man can outrun his fate,” or “when the past comes to collect what you owe.”
Author Edugyan also makes great use of figurative language that is fresh and vivid, such as, “...gents with faces as worn as old dish rags,”and “...his booming voice, when he talked, it overwhelmed the air, shoved it aside like oil in a cup of water.”
Jazz lovers will like the touch of Louis Armstrong in the story and history buffs will appreciate yet another perspective of Nazi Germany where jazz has been banned as degenerate music and blacks face their own brand of discrimination. Half-blood Blues. A good title for a good read.