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Tale of black jazz singer makes 2012 Orange prize shortlist

SHORTLISTED: Canadian author Esi Edugyan is in the running to win the Orange prize for fiction

CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED author Esi Edugyan is one of six women writers shortlisted for the 2012 Orange prize for fiction.

The novel Half Blood Blues has already won Edugyan the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize in her home country of Canada.

It is set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1940 and tells the story of four jazz singers including 20-year-old Hieronymus Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene.

Falk - a black German citizen - is arrested in a French café and never heard from again.

Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero’s bandmate and the sole witness that day, is going back to Berlin with his old friend Chip.

He discovers there’s more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero’s fate was sealed.

The judges said: “We were all struck by the sustained and powerful voice, and sense of place and period, in this wonderful novel of jazz, war-torn Europe, and remorse.”

Edugyan, the daughter of Ghanaian migrants, published her debut novel The Second Life of Samuel Tyne when she was just 25. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003.

Half Blood Blues was also shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

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