Esi Edugyan

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Esi Edugyan
Esi Edugyan - EMWF 2018 - DanH-7118 (cropped).jpg
Edugyan reading at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2018
Born1978 (age 4041)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Alma mater University of Victoria
Notable works Half-Blood Blues (2011); Washington Black (2018)
Notable awards Scotiabank Giller Prize
2011 Half-Blood Blues

Scotiabank Giller Prize
2018 Washington Black
Spouse Steven Price

Esi Edugyan (born 1978) is a Canadian novelist. [1] She has twice won the Giller Prize, for her novels Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black .

Giller Prize award

The Giller Prize, is a literary award given to a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection published in English the previous year, after an annual juried competition between publishers who submit entries. The prize was established in 1994 by Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife Doris Giller, a former literary editor at the Toronto Star, and is awarded in November of each year along with a cash reward.

<i>Half-Blood Blues</i> book by Esi Edugyan

Half-Blood Blues is a fictional work written by Canadian writer Esi Edugyan, and first published in June 2011 by Serpent’s Tail. The book's dual narrative centers around Sidney "Sid" Griffiths, a journeyman jazz bassist. Griffiths' friend and bandmate, Hieronymus "Hiero" Falk, is caught on the wrong side of 1939 Nazi ideology, and is essentially lost to history. Some of his music does survive, however, and half a century later, fans of Falk discover his forgotten story.

<i>Washington Black</i>

Washington Black is the third novel by Canadian author Esi Edugyan. The novel was published in 2018 by HarperCollins in Canada and by Knopf Publishers internationally. A bildungsroman, the story follows the early life of George Washington "Wash" Black, chronicling his escape from slavery and his subsequent adventures. The novel won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.



Esi Edugyan was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta; her parents were immigrants from Ghana. [1] She studied creative writing at the University of Victoria, where she was mentored by Jack Hodgins. She also earned a master's degree from Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. [1] [2]

Calgary City in Alberta, Canada

Calgary is a city in the Canadian province of Alberta. It is situated at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, about 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city anchors the south end of the Statistics Canada-defined urban area, the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor.

Alberta Province of Canada

Alberta is a province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,067,175 as of 2016 census, it is Canada's fourth most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier is Jason Kenney as of April 30, 2019.

Ghana Republic in West Africa

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means "Warrior King" in the Soninke language.

Her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne , written at the age of 24, [3] was published in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in 2005. [4]

Debut novel first published by an author

A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. Debut novels are often the author's first opportunity to make an impact on the publishing industry, and thus the success or failure of a debut novel can affect the ability of the author to publish in the future. First-time novelists without a previous published reputation, such as publication in nonfiction, magazines, or literary journals, typically struggle to find a publisher.

<i>The Second Life of Samuel Tyne</i> book by Esi Edugyan

The Second Life of Samuel Tyne (2004) is the debut novel of Canadian author Esi Edugyan. It was set in Amber Valley, Alberta, an historic settlement of African-American homesteaders from the United States in the early 20th century. The novel was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards program honors Black writers in the United States and around the globe for literary achievement. Introduced in 2001, the Legacy Award was the first national award presented to Black writers by a national organization of Black writers.

Despite favourable reviews for her first novel, Edugyan had difficulty securing a publisher for her second fiction manuscript. [1] She spent some time as a writer-in-residence in Stuttgart, Germany. This period inspired her to drop her unsold manuscript and write another novel, Half-Blood Blues , about a young mixed-race jazz musician, Hieronymus Falk, who is part of a group in Berlin between the wars, made up of African Americans, a German Jew, and wealthy German. The Afro-German Hiero is abducted by the Nazis as a "Rhineland Bastard". Several of his fellow musicians flee Germany for Paris with the outbreak of World War II. The Americans return to the United States, but they meet again in Europe years later. [1]

Stuttgart Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart is located on the Neckar river in a fertile valley known locally as the "Stuttgart Cauldron". It lies an hour from the Swabian Jura and the Black Forest. Its urban area has a population of 609,219, making it the sixth largest city in Germany. 2.7 million people live in the city's administrative region and 5.3 million people in its metropolitan area, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Germany. The city and metropolitan area are consistently ranked among the top 20 European metropolitan areas by GDP; Mercer listed Stuttgart as 21st on its 2015 list of cities by quality of living, innovation agency 2thinknow ranked the city 24th globally out of 442 cities and the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked the city as a Beta-status world city in their 2014 survey.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Rhineland Bastard

Rhineland Bastard was a derogatory term used in Nazi Germany to describe Afro-Germans, believed fathered by French Army personnel of African descent who were stationed in the Rhineland during its occupation by France after World War I. There is evidence that other Afro-Germans, born from unions between German men and African women in former German colonies in Africa, were also referred to as Rheinlandbastarde.

Published in 2011, Half-Blood Blues was announced as a shortlisted nominee for that year's Man Booker Prize, [5] Scotiabank Giller Prize, [6] Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize [7] and Governor General's Award for English-language fiction. [8] Edugyan was one of two Canadian writers, alongside Patrick deWitt, to make all four award lists in 2011. [6] [9]

The Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize is a Canadian literary award presented by Rogers Communications and the Writers' Trust of Canada after an annual juried competition of works submitted by publishers. Alongside the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction and the Giller Prize, it is considered one of the three main awards for Canadian fiction in English.

The Governor General's Award for English-language fiction is a Canadian literary award that annually recognizes one Canadian writer for a fiction book written in English. Beginning 1987 it is one of fourteen Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit, seven each for creators of English- and French-language books. Originally presented by the Canadian Authors Association, the Governor General's Awards program became a project of the Canada Council for the Arts in 1959. The age requirement is 18 and up.

Patrick deWitt is a Canadian novelist and screenwriter. He was born on Vancouver Island at Sidney, British Columbia., and later lived in California and Washington state. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

On November 8, 2011, she won the Giller Prize for Half-Blood Blues. [10] [11] Again alongside deWitt's work, Half-Blood Blues was shortlisted for the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. [12] In September 2012, in a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, Edugyan received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction for Half-Blood Blues, chosen by a jury consisting of Rita Dove, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker and Simon Schama. [13] [14]

The Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction is a British literary award founded in 2010. At £25,000, it is one of the largest literary awards in the UK. The award was created by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, whose ancestors were closely linked to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, who is generally considered the originator of historical fiction with the novel Waverley in 1814.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award is an American literary award dedicated to honoring written works that make important contributions to the understanding of racism and the appreciation of the rich diversity of human culture. Established in 1935 by Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf and originally administered by the Saturday Review, the awards have been administered by the Cleveland Foundation since 1963.

Rita Dove American poet and author

Rita Frances Dove is an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American to have been appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 from the previous "consultant in poetry" position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as "special consultant in poetry" for the Library of Congress's bicentennial year from 1999 to 2000. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987, and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.

In March 2014 Edugyan's first work of non-fiction, Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home, was published by the University of Alberta Press [15] in the Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture Series. [16] [17] In 2016 she was writer-in-residence at Athabasca University in Edmonton, Alberta. [18]

Her third novel, Washington Black , was published in September 2018. [19] It won the Giller Prize in November 2018, [20] making Edugyan only the third writer, after M. G. Vassanji and Alice Munro, ever to win the award twice. [21] [22] Washington Black was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, [23] the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, [24] and the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. [25]

Personal life

Edugyan lives in Victoria, British Columbia, and is married to novelist and poet Steven Price, whom she met when they were both students at the University of Victoria. [1] Their first child was born in August 2011, [26] their second at the end of 2014. [27]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Donna Bailey Nurse, "Writing the blues". Quill & Quire , July 2011.
  2. John Threlfall, "Writing grad Esi Edugyan makes shortlist trifecta", Fine Arts, University of Victoria, October 4, 2011.
  3. Mike Devlin, "Colwood author Esi Edugyan back with new novel", Times Colonist , September 8, 2018.
  4. "Esi Edugyan: History, Culture, and Belonging", The Douglas Review, May 1, 2017.
  5. "Two Canadians Shortlisted for Man Booker". The Mark. September 6, 2011. Archived from the original on February 9, 2016.
  6. 1 2 John Barber, "Generation Giller: New young writers dominate Canada's richest fiction prize", The Globe and Mail , October 4, 2011.
  7. John Barber, "Booker nominees Edugyan, deWitt make shortlist for Writers' Trust prize". The Globe and Mail, September 28, 2011.
  8. Greg Quill, "Edugyan, deWitt contemplate 'an embarrassment of riches'" Archived January 4, 2013, at . Toronto Star , October 11, 2011.
  9. John Barber, "Edugyan and deWitt add GGs to long list of nominations". The Globe and Mail, October 11, 2011.
  10. "Esi Edugyan wins the Giller Prize". CBC News, November 8, 2011.
  11. John Barber, "Author Esi Edugyan takes home the Giller Prize", The Globe and Mail, November 8, 2011.
  12. "Edugyan and deWitt face off in yet another literary contest". The Globe and Mail, April 4, 2012.
  13. "The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award Winners Announced", Cleveland Public Library, April 25, 2012. Archived.
  14. "Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize Goes to Arnold Rampersad", Publishers Weekly , July 12, 2012,
  15. Julie Baldassi, "Spring preview 2014: non-fiction, part 2", Quill & Quire, January 18, 2014.
  16. Dreaming of Elsewhere at The University of Alberta Press.
  17. Madeleine Thein, "Where Do We Belong?", Literary Review of Canada, July–August 2014.
  18. "Esi Edugyan", English-Canadian Writers, Athabasca University.
  19. "Read an excerpt and see the cover of Esi Edugyan's upcoming novel, Washington Black". CBC Books, April 26, 2018.
  20. Adina Bresge, "Esi Edugyan wins Scotiabank Giller Prize for 'Washington Black'", CTV News, November 19, 2018.
  21. Cliff Lee, "Esi Edugyan wins her second Giller Prize, this time for Washington Black". The Globe and Mail , November 19, 2018.
  22. Adina Bresge, "Esi Edugyan wins second $100K Giller Prize for Washington Black". Toronto Star , November 19, 2018.
  23. "Washington Black | The Man Booker Prizes". Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  24. Ryan Porter, "Edugyan, Hage among Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction finalists", Quill & Quire, September 26, 2018.
  25. "ALA Unveils 2019 Carnegie Medals Shortlist". American Libraries . October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  26. Marsha Lederman, "Esi Edugyan: A new baby, and an armful of literary-award nominations", The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2011.
  27. Adrian Chamberlain, "Victoria writer Steven Price scores international book deal", Times Colonist, November 13, 2014.