- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada (Sept. 4 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0676978134
- ISBN-13: 978-0676978131
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 408 g
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – Sep 4 2007
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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.”
“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.”
“…[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.”
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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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. Kainene, on the other hand, having inherited their father's talents, shines as a confident business woman. English researcher and writer, Richard, friend of Odenigbo, falls under her spell. Adichie explores the interactions sisterly intimacy and love as well as its serious tests with sensitivity and empathy for both. Through them and their surroundings she also touches on the social, political and religious tensions of the time.
The list of main characters wouldn't be complete without Ugwu. Brought into the Odenigbo household as a house boy, he matures from the naive village boy to become a well educated, articulate and caring member of the extended family. In fact, Ugwu acts as a sort of understudy to the narrator, adding a very distinctly personal flair to the description of events and bridging the reality of his own family's rural environment with that of the intellectually stimulating social gatherings at the professor's house.
During the war years, intimacies, friendships and loyalties are put to the test. Will they survive the dramatically changed circumstances that the group finds itself in? Some are evicted from their homes and have to join the endless stream of refugees to find shelter and food for survival. Others move into remote rural areas to escape the fighting. Olanna's efforts to maintain her dignity and to protect her small family come alive on the page. So does Kainene's work with her confidence that she can beat adversity and barriers in her efforts to maintain the supplies for a refugee camp. They don't lose hope or humanity. Odenigbo and Richard have their own demons to tackle. And Ugwu juggles his various roles while attempting to maintain something of a private life for himself.
Half of a Yellow Sun, also the symbol of the short-lived Biafran state, represents some of the best that storytelling has to offer. With strong imagery and beautiful language Adichie has created a masterwork. [Friederike Knabe]
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