Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Published January 30, 2013 by bibliobeth


Whats it all about?:

A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as “the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe,” Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

What did I think?:

This is an epic, astonishing novel and I have to say it kept me gripped from beginning to end. I did not know much if anything about the politics between the Biafra-Nigerian war in the late sixties, and I really enjoy a book where I can learn something. The story is told through the eyes of a number of different characters: Ugwu (probably my favourite), an impressionable, faithful and steadfast houseboy, Olanna, a beautiful and strong young woman, and Richard – an Englishman and aspiring writer.

I loved how the story unfolded through the duration of the troubles, which ended up dividing not only a country, but the bonds between our characters when they are tested in different ways. Some of the descriptions of the carnage and massacres are among the bloodiest and the most shocking I have come across, and for that reason will stay with me for a little while. There is a particularly poignant line that sums up the novel perfectly:

“There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable.”

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


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