In this riveting narrative of family and middle-age angst, Esi Edugyan gives us Aster, an all-white suburban enclave. Far removed from the frenzied ways of city life, this small town at first seems an idyllic place to hide away, a place for a man like Samuel Tyne—an African immigrant caught in an impassive marriage, nursing a tenuous connection to his twin daughters, and harboring a growing hatred for his government job—to escape to. When his uncle Jacob suddenly dies, leaving him a rural estate, Samuel promptly packs up his reluctant family, and moves them to his uncle's crumbling mansion. But Samuel soon discovers that Aster is not the haven he had wished for. In fact, there's a strangeness to the town only to be outdone by the strangeness of his own daughters, who are particularly affected by the town's odd goings-on, including a number of mysterious fires. In short order, the new life Samuel Tyne envisioned for himself begins to disintegrate as a dark current of menace is turned upon his family.
Already a book-club favorite, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne is a foreboding and mesmeric read from a welcome and dazzling new voice.
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Haunting and atmospheric, this debut novel portrays the heartbreak, hardship and moments of surprising grace in the life of a man struggling to realize his destiny.
A young man of astonishing promise when he emigrated from Ghana in 1955, Samuel Tyne was determined to accomplish great things. Fifteen long years later, he's an insignificant government employee who hates his job when he unexpectedly inherits his uncle's crumbling mansion in Aster, Alberta. Despite his wife's resistance and the sullen complaints of his thirteen-year-old twin daughters, Samuel quits his job and moves his family to the town. For here, he believes, is that fabled second chance, and he is determined not to fail again.
At first, Aster seems perfect -- to Samuel, the formerly all-black town represents the return to a communal, idyllic way of life. But he soon discovers the town's problems: a history of in-fighting, a strict town council and a series of mysterious fires that put all the townsfolk on edge. When his daughters cease speaking and refuse to explain their increasingly strange behaviour, Samuel turns more and more to the refuge of his electronics shop.
As his ambitions intensify, the life he has struggled so hard to improve begins to disintegrate around him, and a dark current of menace in the town is turned upon the Tyne family.
ESI EDUGYAN’s Half Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize and the Orange Prize. Esi lives in Victoria, BC.
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