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.
Half a Yellow Sun
Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books
overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return
greetings, and had too much hair. Ugwu's aunty said this in a low voice
as they walked on the path. "But he is a good man," she added. "And as
long as you work well, you will eat well. You will even eat meat every
day." She stopped to spit; the saliva left her mouth with a sucking
sound and landed on the grass.
Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat every day. He did not disagree with his aunty, though, because he was too choked with expectation, too busy imagining his new life away from the village. They had been walking for a while now, since they got off the lorry at the motor park, and the afternoon sun burned the back of his neck. But he did not mind. He was prepared to walk hours more in even hotter sun. He had never seen anything like the streets that ...
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).
Full Review (937 words).
A Short History of Biafra and
Located on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria (map) 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 regained.
It was believed that the January 1966 coup was initiated by Igbo officers (the Igbo or ...
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