Esi Edugyan's work has appeared in Best New American Voices, an anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates. She has degrees in writing from Victoria University and Johns Hopkins. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Racial discord and family strife shadow this dense, moody tale of a black family and its troubles settling into a new town in Alberta, Canada. In 1968, soft-spoken West African-born Samuel Tyne inherits his reclusive Uncle Jacob's mansion in the town of Aster, formerly settled by black families out of Oklahoma. Stifled in his Calgary civil service job and hoping for a second chance at happiness, Samuel hastily relocates Maud, his crass, chilly wife, and their sneering, eccentric, "stone-like" twin daughters, Chloe and Yvette. Introverted Ama, the twins' asthmatic school friend, joins them for the summer, but soon grows terrified of everyone. As his home life becomes increasingly troubling, Samuel tinkers away in his new electronics repair shop, devising a computer prototype. Meanwhile, embittered Maud finds herself powerless against the increasingly menacing (and indistinguishable) twins, whose torturous treatment of Ama becomes the springboard for more hideous violence. Neighbors like Ray and Eudora Frank, a blunt, imposing couple-about-town, and rumored warlock Saul Porter, are friendly at first, but reveal their true colors after a fiery conclusion pits neighbor against neighbor, and vicious storefront vandalism returns Samuel to his "graveyard of an empty life." Edugyan's elegiac, shimmering prose makes up for the lack of sunny skies in this impressively conceived and well-executed debut. Agent, Anne McDermid. (Aug.) Forecast: Author events in Seattle and Portland should get this off to a strong start on the West Coast; booksellers can recommend it to fans of Toni Morrison and Alice Hoffman. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
'Esi Edugyan's engagement with universal themes of human disappointment packs a powerful emotional punch. . . Fine writing, subtle characterisation and a convincing portrayal of place and period mark out this engaging first work, reminiscent of early VS Naipaul' Guardian 'Terse, compelling prose. . . a powerful and melancholic story of one man's unfulfilled life' TLS'some darkly comic moments' Scotland on Sunday'A formidable talent-the narrative is crisp, exacting and expertly wrought' - Big Issue
Edugyan's hauntingly elegant debut focuses on naturalized Canadian Samuel Tyne, a native of Ghana and a one-time child prodigy. Now firmly entrenched in middle age, Samuel quits his mind-numbing government job and uproots his family from Calgary to rustic Aster, which was once an all-black town. Here, Samuel not only hopes to fulfill his potential by running his own electronics business and constructing an advanced computer but also dreams that he and his family will enjoy an idyllic, village-like community not unlike the one he knew in Africa. Unfortunately, his neighbors' boorishness, his wife's icy demeanor, and his 13-year-old twin daughters' sociopathic behavior ultimately thrust Samuel into an abyss of anger and despair. The novel is almost completely deficient of meaningful dialog, and a lack of humanity in several characters deducts from their authenticity. Edugyan, however, effectively blends sharp existential observations with spare, graceful prose to provide a wrenching portrait of one man's lifelong struggle with alienation. For most libraries.-Kevin Greczek, Trenton Times, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.