Local author up for Booker prize

Esi Edugyan nominated to literary award, the Man Booker prize

Esi Edugyan is one of three Canadian authors on this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist for her second novel

Esi Edugyan is still taking it all in.

“I don’t know what to anticipate really,” Edugyan says. “This is the first time anything this large has ever happened to me, so I’m just going with it and seeing what happens, and really I’m just thrilled.”

The thrills are the result of Edugyan’s inclusion on the longlist for the Man Booker prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. The £50,000 ($77,000 CDN) prize recognizes the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

This year’s longlist, known as the “Booker Dozen,” features three Canadian authors including Edugyan, who calls Victoria home. The writer is nominated for her second novel, Half-Blood Blues.

For Edugyan, the recognition is a validation of sorts. After her manuscript for a novel about a pianist failed to garner any attention from publishers, the author had to recommit to her craft.

“I thought, ‘okay, I’m a writer, it’s an inescapable fate, there’s no getting out of it,’” Edugyan says, “even though in the back of your head you’re thinking ‘I’m not that old, maybe I could still study law or medicine or something.’”

Fast forward to last week’s longlist annoucement, and it’s clear the effort was worthwhile. Edugyan has experienced a flurry of emotions since hearing the news.

“I had a few days where I didn’t believe it,” she says. “You’re just sitting there in shock and you’re not thinking about it and then it’ll just occur to you at some point in the day and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God!’ Now I’m just at this place where I’m so happy and content.”

Half-Blood Blues tells the story of a mixed-race German jazz musician during World War II, and his friends’ discovery some fifty years later of the truth behind his disappearance.

Edugyan’s inspiration for the story sprung from a year-long residency in a 17th-century castle at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany.

“I’d come across an article on – some people called them the ‘Rhineland bastards’ – the children of African soldiers and German women, maybe a few years earlier,” Edugyan says. “Just being in Germany I ended up setting aside what I was working on and just looking more and more into the history of black people in those times.”

Setting the novel in the jazz world was a natural fit for music-loving Edugyan.

“It’s so different from any other form of music, how it developed,” she says. “Transplanting that over to Europe, where it was almost this form of resistance when the Nazis came to power — all that is so fascinating to me.”

If being nominated for such a prestigious award wasn’t exciting enough for Edugyan, she’s also eight months pregnant with her first child. All in all, the next few months promise to be full of surprises.

“I very much wonder how (motherhood) will change my writing,” Edugyan says. “I’m sure I’ll have a whole different perspective.”

Half-Blood Blues has already been released in the U.K., and will go on sale in Canada Sept. 24.

The Man Booker longlist will be shortened to six on Sept. 6, with the winner being announced Oct. 18.

editor@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Sidney Lions, Peninsula-raised designer craft nearly 200 masks for area seniors

182 masks were distributed to four Saanich Peninsula care homes

What Sooke School District schools will look like on first day of reopening

No water fountains, rotating schedules and face masks not required

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Most Read