A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe, Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafras impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.
With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professors beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olannas twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.
Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and raceand the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.
Adichie delivers a searing, never dry, history lesson packaged into a strong and deeply effecting, even sensuous, story seen primarily through the eyes of the wealthy and well connected twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, and the particularly compelling character of Ugwu, the 13-year-old peasant houseboy of a radical university professor. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
..the story line is not as well developed as the setting, and the characters fail to emerge fully. Not as great as the sum of its parts.
A transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs... a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Adichie has masterminded a commanding, sensitive epic about a vicious civil war that, for all its particular nightmares, parallels every war predicated by prejudice and stoked by outside powers hungry for oil and influence.
Brilliant . . . A stunning sophomore effort ....this is what great fiction does – it simultaneously devours and ennobles, and it is freely acknowledged invention comes to be truer than the facts upon which it is built.
Times Literary Supplement (London) Half of a Yellow Sun strikes one as a fresh examination of the ravages of war [because] of Adichie’s poignant handling of human emotions, in a range of circumstances from romance to conflict.
The Observer (UK)
An immense achievement . . . as well as freshly recreating this nightmarish chapter in her country's history, she writes about the slow process by which love, if strong enough, may overcome.
Absorbing . . . I couldn’t put the book down . . . [a] leap forward in the career of a very talented writer.
Binyavanga Wainaina, author of Discovering Home, founder of the journal Kwani, and winner of The Caine Prize for African Writing
Astonishing . . . fierce and beautifully written. Chimamanda continues to lead
us from the front with her powerful new book. So much of the experience of our
generation of Africans is about how we find ourselves reacting to our times
based on wars and battles and events that we know little about, but which
continue to define us. We need to take control of our history, so we can manage
our present. And it is this idea that is the inspiration behind this novel . . .
. Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human,
always loving . . . . It is a pleasure to read Chimamanda’s crisp, resonant
prose. We see how every person's belonging is contested in a new nation; find
out that nobility of purpose has no currency in this contest; how powerfully we
can love; how easily we can kill; how human we can be when a war dedicates
itself to stripping our humanity from us. Half of a Yellow Sun is
ambitious, impeccably researched . . . Penetrating . . . epic and confident.
Adichie refuses to look away.
We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. Her experimentation with the dual mandate of English and Igbo in perennial discourse is a case in point. Timid and less competent writers would avoid the complication altogether, but Adichie embraces it because her story needs it. She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria's civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Grace Excellent Chimamanda did a great job in her portrayal of the demons in every human. Just think of the atrocities people commit in war situations. We need writers like her to remind us from time to time that it is up to us to make our world the way we want it... Read More
Rated of 5
by Vanger Fater Half of a yellow Sun Chimamanda N.A has taken Nigerian literature to its modern form. Her 'Half of a Yellow Sun' in no doubt has proved this.
Rated of 5
by eyen amos reflections Chimamanda's book has empowered the literary world. Her relating of the Biafra war and all the bizarre things that took place; and yet still finding a way to weave the ugly situation with beautiful things going on in the mind of a young child and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Valerie Highly recommended An excellent book - well written, deep character development, and very informative about countries in civil war.
Located on the west coast of Africa,
is the most populous country in Africa
(~122 million in an area about double
that of California). It became a
state in 1960 when it declared its
independence from Britain. In 1966 a
series of coups and counter coups
started that continued until 1999 (other
than for a short lived "second republic"
from 1979-1983) when democracy was
It was believed that the January 1966
coup was initiated by Igbo officers (the
Igbo or Ibo are one of the largest
ethnic groups in Africa constituting
about 17% of Nigeria's population), as a
result, in September of the same year
there were mass killings of migrant Igbo
living in northern Nigeria. In response
to this, Lieutenant Colonel...
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