A novel that, less than a year ago, was without a Canadian publisher has won the country’s most prestigious literary prize. Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues, about a jazz musician who disappears in Nazi-occupied France, was awarded the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize Tuesday evening, capping an unlikely run that has seen the Calgary-born novelist rise from obscurity to become one of the season’s most buzzed about authors.
Half-Blood Blues was supposed to be published by Key-Porter, whose parent company went bankrupt. There was Edugyan’s second novel, in limbo. She faced a writer’s nightmare, re-acquiring her rights and starting again. But talent paid out, and so did luck as the novel was quickly picked up by a smart and independent Canadian publisher, Thomas Allen. A 2nd big print run is in the works.
And I’m so glad, though I bought Half-Blood Blues before the Giller win–occasionally I peg it right.