The Second Life of Samuel Tyne by Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan

Author is mostly known for

  1. Her second novel – Half-Blood Blues, won the prestigious Canadian  Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 , and received shortlist honours for both the 2011 Man Booker Prize and the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. The book also was a nominee for the 2011 Governor General’s Awards and the 2011 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Others publications 

  1. Half Blood Blues

GP4-Esi

Prizes/Awards 

  1. Winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize
  2. Winner of the 2012 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
  3. Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
  4. Winner of the 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

Author whereabouts 

Full-time Writer living in Calgary, Canada

Excerpt

A young man of great promise when he emigrated from Ghana to the New World in 1955, Samuel Tyne was determined to accomplish significant things. Fifteen years later, now a failed and insignificant government employee, Samuel inherits his uncle’s crumbling mansion in Aster, a small town in Alberta, Canada. Despite his wife’s resistance and the sullen complaints of his 13-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 let it slip away.

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 to speak and refuse to explain their increasingly threatening behaviour, Samuel turns more and more to the refuge of his electronics shop, where he hopes to build one of the country’s first advanced computing machines. As his ambitions intensify, the life he has struggled so hard to improve begins to disintegrate around him, and a dark current of menace is turned upon the Tyne family.

Key themes/Topics

  1. Black Immigrants in Canada
  2. Ex-slaves migration from the US to Canada
  3. Rural Life in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  4. Ghana’s Independence
  5. Immigration out of Africa
  6.  western-educated  black people versus uneducated
  7. Parents struggle to raise children different from them
  8. African traditions and Immigration
  9. Black folks living in a white people’s town
  10. Racism
  11. Cultural barriers
  12. The meaning of success
  13. shattered dreams and their consequences on humans

I found strange

Some issues remain unresolved at the end of the novel. Maybe the author did it on purpose, all I know is that I didn’t like it one bit. Other than that, I really enjoy reading this book, it was quite an experience. Books like this make you appreciate the life you have. It also makes you think about the sufferings of the first black immigrants in Canada.

I found brilliant

This book is incredibly sad, but despite that, you can’t resist the urge to keep on reading –  a true page-turner. The protagonist, Samuel, is such an enigma. And that, for me, is where the genius of this book lies.  We all have a bit of Samuel in us. The other aspect I did like very much was Samuel’s guilt over not going back to his country after graduation. It was very brilliantly portrayed. It is a struggle all immigrants have to go through at one point in their successful life. It was interesting to see this issue portrayed during the early independence days.

What to expect 

Unfortunately, it is a very sad book. I didn’t encounter a single character that was even close to happy. So don’t expect any happy endings. However, this book is very different from any of my previous reading.  It is close to my reality, even though it tells the story of a man who has lived in the 1950’s. It is hard to explain, but it has to do with being an immigrant, regardless of where and when.

I don’t understand why this brilliant book did not get proper credit. Reviews was quite low on GoodReads , without any specific reason. I sincerely recommend you this book.

Did you read this book? What did you think?

One response to “The Second Life of Samuel Tyne by Esi Edugyan

  1. Pingback: Under The Neem Tree Best books of 2014 | Under the neem Tree·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s