We’ll be spending this week exploring the lives and works of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award winners. Today we’re recognizing Esi Edugyan, who won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Half-Blood Blues.
- She counts Leo Tolstoy and Alice Munro among her favorite writers of all time: “Tolstoy has given me the most, year after year, without fail. I return to him for his scope, his sense of human destiny, the vastness of his vision. Alice Munro, for the precision of her writing, the sharp corners she can turn between sentences. There are many others – dozens and dozens! – of course.”
- If she wasn’t a writer, she’d still be doing something creative: “I honestly don’t know. On those days when you’re having problems and dreaming of greener pastures, you know, you think about it…I thought I’d study law or might do something else artistic – like dance, perhaps. Definitely something creative. As an adult I took a lot of dance classes, but wish I had danced as a child. Or singing. I would love to have trained my voice up.”
- Does she believe in writer’s block? “If something isn’t coming, I think the angle from which you’re entering the work is not right, and you just have to change it. I think the business is difficult – getting an audience in all of this, I mean. You finish a book and you’re really excited, and it might not perform the way you (or others) want it to perform, and you wonder why certain books aren’t more celebrated, and why others are, and so many great books seem to slip through the cracks. It can seem quite arbitrary.”
- How did she cope when her initial publisher for Half-Blood Blues went bankrupt and her novel was “homeless” for a couple months? She addresses that, as well as her reaction to the book’s popularity, in this video.
- Edugyan was a finalist for the Booker Prize, for which she recorded this video of a reading of Half-Blood Blues: