Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – Sep 4 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
While the war for Biafra's independence, born out of highly complex Nigerian and international political circumstances, provides the essential context for the novel, Adichie's focus is on the personal and private, the struggle of the civilian Igbo population. Her depiction of the horrors of war, the starvation and destruction is realistic. Yet she does not allow these scenes to take over and succeeds in not overwhelming the reader with them. By concentrating on one family and its close circle of friends and neighbours, Adichie creates an intimate portrait of these people's lives during both these critical periods. She paints her characters and their ongoing interactions against the panoramic view of events and environments that influence their lives and challenges their peace and even their existence.
Central to her story are the twin sisters, Olanna and Kainene, from a wealthy middleclass Igbo family. The beautiful Olanna leaves Lagos for a university environment to be with her political firebrand lover, the math professor Odenigbo.Read more ›
I loved this book, as did the other members of my club. I found the characters so real and interesting and their stories consuming. I learned a great deal from this book, not only the history of this civil war, but also about people. I love the way the author set her story in such a horrific time without making the novel feel like a prelude to depression and hopelessness. The book was real and not without tragedy, yet hope and resilience were the prevailing themes. The book follows many characters without confusing the reader or watering down their stories. It truly is the work of a highly skilled author!
Definitely on a must read list and my current number one recommendation.
Ugwu, a houseboy for eccentric university lecturer Odenigbo. Olanna, whose parents raise her and twin sister Kainene in the most privileged of backgrounds in Lagos; she leaves everything behind to follow Odenigbo as they are very much in love. Richard, a timid British national charmed by the Igbo culture and enthralled by Kainene, whose personality is an enigma for everyone. Obviously many other characters rotate all around and as we become acquainted with each of them, their presence is always pertinent and complementary to the main story.
I would not add anything else as the tale would be spoiled but I cannot refrain from strongly recommending this book as it is informative in many ways, its narrative flows beautifully, heartbreakingly, even comically at times and your heart is captured within the lines. It does not dwell on the violence of war even though it (the violence) is perceived in subtle but incredibly effective ways.
Read this book, you will not regret it. Quoting from my review title, simply wonderful, indeed.
Most recent customer reviews
I can't remember the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed a novel: the characters are well-developed, and from its opening paragraph, the story is compelling.Published 5 days ago by "Bomber"
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 9 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 14 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 24 months ago by Lipant
It's highly engaging: informative, tragic, funny, poignant ...triggering our deepest thoughts and emotions. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Nanou