Abstract

Abstract:

This article draws attention to a body of fiction that expands our understanding of the Holocaust by imaginatively reconstructing the neglected experiences of Black victims of Nazi persecution. Two key examples are John A. Williams' Clifford's Blues (1999) and Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues (2011), both of which recall the Black jazz musicians in wartime Europe caught up in the Nazis' genocidal campaign. Seeking to integrate their stories into the collective memory of World War II, Williams and Edugyan combine Holocaust fiction's documentary effect with characteristic thematic and formal strategies of jazz fiction. Williams adopts the solitary voice of the troubled bluesman, while Edugyan embraces jazz's polyvocality. Notwithstanding the risks of Holocaust analogies that Clifford's Blues in particular exposes, both novels illustrate the capacity of jazz fiction to produce revisionary historical narratives and intervene in memory culture.

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