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Starred Review. When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie (Purple Hibiscus). Adichie tells her profoundly gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedy Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene's relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well: rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art—and whose relationship with Kainene nearly ruptures when he spends one drunken night with Olanna. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war's brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It's a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing. (Sept. 15)
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Adichie surpasses her award-winning debut, Purple Hibiscus (2003), with a magnificent novel in which the dreams and tragedies of 1960s Nigeria are filtered through the minds and experiences of stupendously compelling characters. From page 1, an unbreakable bond is forged between the reader and Ugwu, a bright and kind young teen who has left his barebones village to serve as houseboy to Odenigbo, a robust and radical professor full of hope for newly independent Nigeria in spite of ingrained ethnic divides and colonialism's deleterious aftereffects. Ugwu becomes devoted to Odenigbo's beautiful and cultured lover, Olanna, as Odenigbo's treacherous mother plots against her, and her estranged twin sister, tough and sardonic Kainene, takes up with a gentle Englishman. The momentous psychological and ethical pressures Adichie engineers could support an engrossing novel in their own right, but her great subject is Nigeria's horrific civil war, specifically the fate of Biafra, the doomed breakaway Igbo state. "Half a yellow sun" is Biafra's emblem of hope, but the horrors and misery Adichie's characters endure transform the promising image of a rising sun into that of a sun setting grimly over a blood-soaked and starving land. 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. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I was young when there were news reports about Biafra and (I am ashamed to say) there were jokes that had Biafra or starving children as the punch line. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ame
I put off reading this because of the mention of the war in Biafra, but it is not depressing. Sad in places, but fascinating. Read morePublished 9 months ago by A. R. Laidlaw
This is not an uplifting book. The story of how Biafra was established and then taken back by Nigeria, it was a bit depressing but uplifting in how the people stuck to their... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Lipant
It's highly engaging: informative, tragic, funny, poignant ...triggering our deepest thoughts and emotions. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Nanou
After having spent a lot of time in West Africa, this book has really captured my heart. No matter who you are or where you live, this is a must read!Published 19 months ago by Brigitte Bilodeau
It was the blurb that first caught my attention. Then the fact that the story is on the Nigerian Civil war I was researching at the time made me go for this book. Read morePublished 20 months ago by John T C
Interesting book on Biafra, bringing forward details that we read about at the time and making them human. Shows the strength of the female psyches.Published on July 29 2013 by Anne Walker