23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Esi Edugyan
© Tamara Poppitt

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan was born in 1977 in Calgary, Canada, as the daughter of immigrants from Ghana. Beginning in 1996, she first studied journalism and then switched to English and creative writing at the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University.
Her first collection of short stories »The Bone House and Other Stories« (2001) was her master’s thesis. The texts are characterized by the frugal use of literary devices, and an eye for seemingly unimportant details that reveal their fateful meaning over the course of the action. In her debut novel »The Second Life of Samuel Tyne« (2004), Edugyan describes the »second life« of a Ghanaian who emigrates to Canada. In 2006-07 she was Writer-in-Residence at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. There, she learned German and began working onher second novel »Half-Blood Blues« (2011), which is about the fate of two jazz musicians in the »Third Reich«. Sidney »Sid« Griffiths, a bassist, plays the forbidden »black« music with the trumpet player Hieronymus »Hiero« Falk, son of a German mother and an African father, in cellar pubs in the late thirties. The American Delilah promises to find a way out of this threatening situation by bringing the band to Paris to make a record with Louis Armstrong. But Sid is driven by his envy of the much more talented Hiero, who is disparaged by National Socialist ideology as a »Rhineland bastard« and arrested by the Gestapo in 1940. But his music survives, and half a century later Hiero’s fans discover his forgotten story. »Half-Blood Blues« was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011 and received the renowned Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize. »It’s a work that promises to lead black literature in a whole new direction« (»The Globe and Mail«). The plot of her latest novel »Washington Black« (2018) begins on a sugar plantation on Barbados in the 19th century, shortly before the abolition of slavery in the British colony. The story is told from the perspective of the eleven-year-old slave Washington Black. A strange visitor to the farm by the name of Titch becomes the central figure in Washington’s life, which from then on is marked by flight, the persecution by a bounty hunter, and many adventures between Canada, London, and Morocco. Edugyan compresses the well-known historical narrative form into a unique and original story of the tension between the privileged and the disenfranchised of that time. Among other honors, the novel was shortlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize, won the Giller Prize, and was named one of the best books of 2018 by the »New York Times« and »Washington Post«, among others.
Edugyan’s books have been translated into German, Dutch and Hungarian. She lives in Victoria, Canada, where she teaches literary writing at the university.


Diese Fremden
Merz & Akademie Schloss Solitude
Stuttgart, 2007
[Ü: Bettina Obrecht]
The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
New York, 2004
Spielʼs noch einmal
Berlin, 2011
[Ü: Peter Knecht]
Dreaming of Elsewhere
Observations on Home
University of Alberta Press
Edmonton, 2014
Washington Black
Köln, 2019
[Ü: Anabelle Assaf]