A while ago I caught a brief moment of a panel discussion on a Canadian television program on some aspect of racism in Canada. Being a Canadian based conversation it was lifeless with nothing of substance or relevance being discussed… just a bunch of smiling “negroes”, gleefully bantering that race relations in Canada is better than in the U.S. Truth is, it’s much more institutionalized and systemic, hence more hidden and insidious than south of our border.

As I was about to change the channel before I became permanently comatose from disinterest, the host introduced a Black Canadian author of Ghanaian descent, Esi Edugyan. What sparked my interest was during this introduction, the title of her most recent novel “Half Blood Blues” was mentioned. I had never heard of Ms. Edugyan or her novel before, but I was curious about the title and what the storyline was about. After “googling” her and the novel, I decided to purchase it.

The novel is a rhythmic piece of work with a distinctive jazz inspired flow to it. It portrays the lives of jazz musicians in Germany and France: black, white, male, female, American and German, during the rise of Hitler and fascism in general, and its impact on their relationships with each other. It weaves with some effort through the emotional turmoil of being black in Europe during that period, especially being a German “half” black citizen during the rise and march of Nazism throughout Europe. It moves back and forth within a fifty year time period, delving into the melodies of love, friendships, loyalties, insecurities, betrayal, selfish desires, survival, redemption and forgiveness, culminating in a crescendo of the sad truth that at times makes up our lives.

Well written, with gentle nuances within heart-wrenching plotlines, it is a musically crafted piece of literature that resonates within ones soul, like after experiencing an intriguing piece of art.

Further addition: Blacks during the Holocaust