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Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – Sep 4 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Sept. 4 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676978134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676978131
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


A New York Times Notable Book
A Richard & Judy Book Club Selection
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Finalist for the commonwealth writers’ prize for best book (Africa region)

“A gorgeous, pitiless account of love, violence and betrayal during the Biafran war.”

“A landmark novel, whose clear, undemonstrative prose can so precisely delineate nuance. . . . She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory.”
The Guardian (UK)

“At once historical and eerily current, Half of a Yellow Sun honours the memory of a war largely forgotten outside Nigeria, except as a synonym for famine. But although she uses history to gain leverage on the present, Adichie is a storyteller, not a crusader.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[Adichie’s] second novel leaves you reeling at the horrors people can inflict on one another. . . . The stark maturity of its vision is so startling that the great African novelist Chinua Achebe refused to believe the book could have been written by someone so young.”
National Post

“Adichie has created a jarring and achingly sensitive fiction. With powerful poetic prose unique in a writer so young, Half of a Yellow Sun is a moving novel that I would recommend to anyone brave enough to follow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie into the hell where her characters live, love and face unspeakable horrors.”
Hour (Montreal)

“…[an] artful page-turner…[a] profoundly gripping story. This dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well…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.”
Publishers Weekly

“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.”
–Chinua Achebe

Praise for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Purple Hibiscus:

“The secret of Adichie’s style is simplicity, rhythm and balance. She writes a poet’s sentences.”
London Review of Books

“A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state.”
–J. M. Coetzee

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy award. It was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta and the Iowa Review, among other literary journals, and she received an O. Henry Prize in 2003. She is a 2005/2006 Hodder fellow at Princeton University and divides her time between the U.S. and Nigeria.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Friederike Knabe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Feb. 15 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of us will have little knowledge of the Biafra war, except, possibly, for the media's haunting images of starving children. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie brings her people's world to us in this beautifully crafted, deeply moving, novel. Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, the narrative alternates between the optimistic early years of the decade and the civil war period at the end of it. With her extraordinary storytelling skill, Adichie draws the reader into an absorbing account of fictionalized realities that is impossible to put down - or to forget after the last page is read. With this, her second novel, she confirms her international reputation, established first with Purple Hibiscus, as one of the leading new voices of African literature.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I had been suffering from an inability to complete a novel for a period of months. I found myself losing interest mid-way through books and thought something was wrong with me. I joined a book club and through discussion with the members thought perhaps it was the books I was reading and not me. When it was my turn to host the book club I chose this novel and began reading with trepidation. Well I was fully engaged from start to finish and confirmed that it wasn't me, the problem was in fact the books I had been reading!
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.
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Format: Paperback
In Nigeria, devastated by civil war in the 1960s, we see the birth of the state of Biafra and relearn quite a bit of history. It is through the eyes of three different characters, whose personal tales intertwine, that history blends with their difficult paths:

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ms. Chimamanda tells her story using three different narrators, Ugwa, a houseboy who moves from a tiny village to work for Odenigbo, a professor at a university in the Nigerian town of Nsukka. Odenigbo treats Ugwa as more than a houseboy teaching him English and sending him to school so that he can become educated and perhaps, not always a houseboy. Olanna, Odenigbo’s romantic interest is the second narrator and daughter of a wealthy chief from the capital of Lagos. The final narrator is Richard Churchill, a Brit, who’s arrived in Nigeria to pursue his writing and follow an interest in Igbo artifacts that date back hundreds of years. Coincidentally, he falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister Kanene. It’s the early sixties and intellectuals such as Odenigbo are planning the separation of Bithe southern portion of Nigeria into the new nation of Biafra with a planned flag that features half of a yellow sun. Biafra would be home to the Igbo who mainly follow Christian and animistic faiths. In the north, live the Moslem Hausa and Falani peoples. An amicable separation might have been possible if the future location of Biafra did not possess most of the oil reserves in the country. After Biafra declares independence in 1966, as many as 30,000 Igbo people caught in the mainly Hausa populated north were slaughtered before they could reach the safety of their new country. War broke out and the Biafran people were cut off from supplies of food and medicine. The hardships of war and starvation are well documented by Ms. Chimamanda’s and provide my first in depth understanding of what went on there at the time. With her three narrators she is able provide multiple perspectives of the war that provide a riveting tale of love, politics, war and depravity that will stay with me long after I finished the novel.
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