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Half of a Yellow Sun Kindle Edition
From the award-winning, bestselling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists—a haunting story of love and war • Recipient of the Women’s Prize for Fiction “Winner of Winners” award
With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene.
Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.
From the Publisher
“A gorgeous, pitiless account of love, violence and betrayal during the Biafran war.” —Time
“Instantly enthralling. . . . Vivid. . . . Powerful . . . A story whose characters live in a changing wartime atmosphere, doing their best to keep that atmosphere at bay.” —The New York Times
“Ingenious. . . . [With] searching insight, compassion and an unexpected yet utterly appropriate touch of wit, Adichie has created an extraordinary book.” —Los Angeles Times
“Brilliant. . . . Adichie entwines love and politics to a degree rarely achieved by novelists. . . . That is what great fiction does–it simultaneously devours and ennobles, and in its freely acknowledged invention comes to be truer than the facts upon which it is built.” —Elle
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B001L83PLQ
- Publisher : Vintage (November 12, 2008)
- Publication date : November 12, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 3926 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 562 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #92,177 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Essentially, the book is about chronicling the tone and feel of the Biafran conflict. She leaves the reader wanting Biafra, needing Biafra, and feeling remorse for the consequences of its failure (not a spoiler – her plot is carved into history). Nigeria in the 1960s was a society entangled in ethnic troubles and then civil war. The genocide inflicted on the Igbo people is horrible and tragic. Through the war they suffered and starved, eventually bringing Biafra to its knees. This part of her story is one of the most powerful, and where Adichie really flexes her literary muscles. How she is able to have starvation permeate her imagined world, effecting each character and the world around them, is fantastic. How Adichie was able to capture the pain and torment in such a realistic way is beyond me. Her depth of research also becomes apparent here, regularly – but not obnoxiously – dropping in facts and names of organizations and people who were there during the conflict.
Adichie’s argument and motive for writing such a work was to chronicle with as much accuracy as possible the tone and feel of that conflict. She leaves the reader wanting Biafra, needing Biafra, and feeling remorse for the consequences of its failure (not a spoiler – her plot is carved into history). I can guarantee you will put down this book and go straight to your computer to research this event.
The length of the work is one of the few complaints I have. In Adichie’s obsessive need to create the world of Biafra as realistically for the reader as possible, her details can slow the pacing. This is an emotional novel, and she builds the emotions over time. Also, don’t be expecting to laugh – you barely will.
Yet, if you are looking for a work that will move you and your worldview, this is the one. I highly recommend.
Top reviews from other countries
There are times when this got too soapy for my tastes and the result is a kind of historically-lite tale that presses an awful lot of standard fictional buttons.
I guess I wanted more in-depth politics: the lead up to the secession of Biafra is quite powerfully done - but then suddenly it just exists and is at war and things get vague - we learn, for example, that there are Biafran car number-plates, a separate currency but no sense of any of these markers of a new state being established. And I wanted to understand more about the role of oil which, we learn, Biafra is still extracting and refining under the bombing of the Nigerian forces. Even the famous famine doesn't feel as visceral as it should as there's so much else going on - not least the enforced conscription of a main character at about 80% into the book.
Even Adichie's writing style seems to become more panoramic: at the start, it's vivid and immediate with very little exposition, and character being expressed via what people do and say. As the story proceeds, it becomes a bit more 'told' - though I like the fact that there is no omniscient narrator and we have a sense of contingency and reaction.
Overall, this is undoubtedly both ambitious and also a personally important topic for Adichie herself - I liked it but just didn't love it as much as I wanted.
The Half of a Yellow Sun is a wonderful story about the people fighting for their life, believes, love, a story marvellously told by someone who has the particular events written in their family chronicles, DNA, history... Coming from a country that was (and still is) very much under the shadow of the single story, I found this book truly inspiring! Adichie is telling the other side of complex war story through the stories of the main characters. Her narration is powerful and interesting, telling us that even when everything around you is falling apart, even in the most terrifying situations, life goes on and people fight their usual, every day demons.
This book made me see Africa through the different lenses and, sadly, reconfirm how many similar stories happened (and is still happening) thanks to the Western "divide et impera" practices. It is heart breaking that people are so naïve to fall for it over and over again...
I am now 100 per cent in Chimamanda's fan club, and I look forward to enjoying her prose in the next novel I choose to read!
This one took me nearly two months to read, largely because I found it almost completely flat in tone despite the human tragedy it describes. I learned a good deal about the background to the Biafran War, which happened when I was far too young to understand it but still registered with me and all my generation because of the horrific pictures of starving children that were shown on the news night after night for many months. I also learned a lot about the life of the privileged class in Nigeria – those with a conflicted relationship with their colonial past, adopting British education, the English language and the Christian religion while despising the colonisers who brought these things to their country. Adichie manages to be relatively even-handed – whenever she has one of her characters blame the British for all their woes, she tends to have another at least hint at the point that not all the atrocities Africans carry out against each other can be blamed on colonisation, since inter-ethnic hatreds and massacres long predated colonisation.
In this case it is the Igbo who are presented as the persecuted – the same ethnic group as Chinua Achebe writes about in Things Fall Apart, a book which I feel has clearly influenced Achebe’s style. The attempt at a degree of even-handedness struck me in both, as did the method of telling the political story through the personal lives of a small group of characters. In both, that style left me rather disappointed since I am always more interested in the larger political picture than in the domestic arena, but that’s simply a subjective preference. I felt I learned far more about how the Biafrans lived – the food they ate, the way they cooked, the superstitions of the uneducated “bush people”, the marriage customs, etc. - than I did about why there was such historical animosity between the northern Nigerians and the Igbo, which personally would have interested me more. On an intellectual level, however, I feel it’s admirable that Adichie chose not to devote her book to filling in the ignorance of Westerners, but instead assumed her readership would have enough background knowledge – like Achebe’s, this is a tale told by an African primarily for Africans, and as such I preferred it hugely to Americanah, which I felt was another in the long string of books written by African and Asian ex-pats mainly to pander to the white-guilt virtue-signalling of the Western English-speaking world.
Although I found all of the descriptions of life before and during the war interesting, the main problem of the book for me was that I didn’t care much about any of the characters. Just as I find annoying British books that concentrate on the woes of the privileged class, and especially on the hardships of writers, so I found it here too. Adichie is clearly writing about the class she inhabits – academics, politically-minded, wealthy enough to have servants – and I found her largely uncritical of her own class, and rather unintentionally demeaning towards the less privileged – the servants and the people without access to a British University education, many without even the right to basic schooling.
Adichie is far more interested in romantic relationships than I am, and the bed-hopping of her main characters occasionally gave me the feeling I had drifted into an episode of Dallas or Dynasty by mistake. I was also a little taken aback, given Adichie’s reputation as a feminist icon, that it appeared that the men’s infidelities seemed to be more easily forgiven than the women’s, even by the women. (I don’t think she’s wrong in this – it just surprised me that she somehow didn’t seem to highlight it as an issue.) But what surprised me even more, and left a distinctly unpleasant taste, was when she appeared to be trying to excuse and forgive a character who participated in a gang-rape of a young girl during the war. I think she was perhaps suggesting that war coarsens us all and makes us behave out of character, and I’m sure that’s true. But it doesn’t make it forgivable, and this feminist says that women have to stop helping men to justify or excuse rape in war. There is no justification, and I was sorry that that particular character was clearly supposed to have at least as much of my sympathy as the girl he raped.
So overall, a mixed reaction from me. I’m glad to have read it, I feel a learned a considerable amount about the culture of the privileged class of the Igbo and the short-lived Biafran nation, but I can’t in truth say I wholeheartedly enjoyed it.