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Esi Edugyan

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Esi Edugyan
Esi Edugyan at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2018
Edugyan reading at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2018
Born1978 (age 45–46)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Victoria (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
Notable worksHalf-Blood Blues (2011); Washington Black (2018)
Notable awardsScotiabank Giller Prize
2011 Half-Blood Blues

Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
2012 Half-Blood Blues

Scotiabank Giller Prize
2018 Washington Black
SpouseSteven Price

Esi Edugyan (born 1978) is a Canadian novelist.[1] She has twice won the Giller Prize, for her novels Half-Blood Blues (2011) and Washington Black (2018).


Esi Edugyan was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, to parents 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]

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]

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]

Published in 2011, Half-Blood Blues was shortlisted 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]

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 composed of Rita Dove, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker, and Simon Schama.[13][14]

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] the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction,[25] and the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award.[26] The novel was selected for the 2022 edition of Canada Reads, where it was defended by Mark Tewksbury.[27]

She features in Margaret Busby's 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa with the contribution "The Wrong Door: Some Meditations on Solitude and Writing".[28]

Edugyan was selected as chair for the 2023 Booker Prize jury, alongside fellow judges Robert Webb, Mary Jean Chan, Adjoa Andoh and James Shapiro.[29][30]

Personal life[edit]

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,[31] their second at the end of 2014.[32]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Donna Bailey Nurse, "Writing the blues" Archived 2014-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. 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 March 27, 2012.
  6. ^ a b 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'", Toronto Star, October 11, 2011. Archived January 4, 2013, at archive.today.
  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". themanbookerprize.com. 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. ^ Chukwuebuka Ibeh, "Esi Edugyan Shortlisted for €100,000 International Dublin Literary Award", Brittle Paper, October 9, 2020.
  27. ^ "Meet the Canada Reads 2022 contenders". CBC Books, January 26, 2022.
  28. ^ "'It is a loss of privacy that has the greatest ability to destroy an artist'—Esi Edugyan, excerpted from New Daughters of Africa". The Johannesburg Review of Books, June 3, 2019.
  29. ^ Brown, Lauren (December 13, 2022). "Twice-shortlisted Edugyan announced as chair of judges for 2023 Booker Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  30. ^ "Canadian writer Esi Edugyan to chair 2023 Booker Prize jury". CBC Books. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. December 13, 2022. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  31. ^ Marsha Lederman, "Esi Edugyan: A new baby, and an armful of literary-award nominations", The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2011.
  32. ^ Adrian Chamberlain, "Victoria writer Steven Price scores international book deal", Times Colonist, November 13, 2014.

External links[edit]