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Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 543 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095209
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Based loosely on political events in nineteen-sixties Nigeria, this novel focusses on two wealthy Igbo sisters, Olanna and Kainene, who drift apart as the newly independent nation struggles to remain unified. Olanna falls for an imperious academic whose political convictions mask his personal weaknesses; meanwhile, Kainene becomes involved with a shy, studious British expat. After a series of massacres targeting the Igbo people, the carefully genteel world of the two couples disintegrates. Adichie indicts the outside world for its indifference and probes the arrogance and ignorance that perpetuated the conflict. Yet this is no polemic. The characters and landscape are vividly painted, and details are often used to heartbreaking effect: soldiers, waiting to be armed, clutch sticks carved into the shape of rifles; an Igbo mother, in flight from a massacre, carries her daughter's severed head, the hair lovingly braided.
Copyright © 2006 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who grew up in Nigeria, was shortlisted for the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards and has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review.

Customer Reviews

The story line is compelling and the characters are incredibly well developed.
It is the fact that other's cannot really know what she's thinking that makes her such an interesting character.
It was a gripping war story, a masterful historical account, and a beautiful love story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Pattee Fletcher on February 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down! The story grabbed hold of me immediately and soon I was living in the lives of the main characters. There are many ways to look at this book: it is a love story; a history; about African culture; about starvation; a war story; a book about families and loyalty; it is about facing fatal horror and trying to find meaning; it is literature; and it is a keeper.

The plot cannot be condensed into one theme or story. It is about loving someone with whom you have real and painful differences, the heartache, companionship, and ultimately, acceptance of each other and of the love that you have. It is about how disparate members of a family cope with plenty and with poverty. It takes you into the war for Biafra and the details are harsh, stark, and they make you pause.

Adichie presents us with an honest story; there are no happy endings; many compromises. This is the beauty of the story - it is honest, real, lyrically relentless in depicting a point in time that was a shame of a nation; of a world.

Adichie's novel will haunt you and it will stand the test of time.
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Yesh Prabhu, author of The Beech Tree VINE VOICE on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Every novelist has a unique story simmering in her (his) head, a story that she feels she must write; Arundhati Roy had "The God of Small Things", V. S. Naipaul had "A House for Mr. Biswas", and Chimamanda Adichie had "Half of a Yellow Sun". "This is a book I had to write," Ms. Adichie has said. "I have been thinking about this book my whole life."

When a writer thinks of a story for years, and then sets out to write it with care and passion, the prose flows as heartfelt, and the novel shines. As a result, long after you finish reading this novel, you will feel your mind lit with the light of this powerful, frightening and also deeply moving novel. Written in simple but elegant prose, her style reminded me of the great Indian writer R. K. Narayan: "He looked up at the ceiling, so high up, so piercingly white. He closed his eyes and tried to reimagine this spacious room with the alien furniture, but he couldn't. He opened his eyes, overcome by a new wonder, and looked around to make sure it was all real. To think that he would sit on these sofas, polish this slippery-smooth floor, wash these gauzy curtains."
And like R. K. Narayan, who was well-known for his short stories, Chimamanda also has written short stories as well. (She has been compared with Chinua Achebe, but I haven't read any of Achebe's novels.)

In Nigeria, in the late 1960s, there was a civil war between the Muslims in the north and Christians in the south, in the state of Biafra. Ethnic cleansing and massacre of Biafrans followed. As a result, Biafrans tried to secede from Nigeria. The half of a yellow sun refers to the emblem of the flag of the state of Biafra.
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90 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Amanta Usukpam Ukpaghiri on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun

By Amanta Usukpam Ukpaghiri

I finished reading Half of a Yellow Sun and was left with a lingering sense of sadness at having completed the novel too quickly. I wished it continued and that l continued to read it, perhaps, for a very long time. It is a masterpiece of a work, destined to be a classic; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has trod where many others have feared to tread. She has taken the pain and suffering and horror of a people - the Igbos -- and given them novelistic prominence, and by so doing, asked historical questions that still demand answers. She, in effect, stands athwart the current amnesia in Nigeria and requests that the country comes to terms with the Igbo sub-nationality and either accept it as a full member of the polity -- or leave it alone to its own devices. Admirably, she is (as she said in an interview) "insistently and consciously" Igbo - and unlike several economic climbers in today's Nigeria, is never shamelessly apologetic that she is Igbo.

This book is truly more than a novel - although even as a novel, it is extremely well crafted, brimming with characters that come alive and leap off the pages and embody events that unquestionably took place in the history of Nigeria. Indeed, this book is a form of historical narrative that tells the story of Igbos' vibrant engagement with Nigeria in the 1960s before the civil war, the massacres of tens of thousands of Igbos following military intervention in politics, and the period of the civil war itself from 1967 to 1970.

Chimamanda has achieved several noble things with one stroke. She has furnished literature with simple, elegant and sharp sentences and a (albeit horror) story beautifully woven together in paragraph after paragraph.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elevate Difference on September 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Africa is undeniably hip right now. Just ask Oprah, Bono, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, among other luminaries, make their annual pilgrimages between the "third" world and the "first" world to remind us of our moral obligation to our long-suffering brothers and sisters in Africa. From the continent has come one of the finest writers I have read in a long time. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Purple Hibiscus, and her latest masterpiece, Half of a Yellow Sun. In this novel, which won the prestigious Orange prize for literature in the UK, Adichie brings Nigeria in the early '60s to life.

Through the lives of her central characters, we see the political and cultural tensions that were brewing in the years leading up to the Biafran war, a brutal conflict initially started by tribal differences. Thirteen-year old Ugwu is employed as a house boy to a radical University professor, Olanna is the professor's beautiful and privileged girlfriend who has eschewed her bourgeois life for the brilliant professor. Richard is a shy, insecure Englishman who seeks to rediscover himself in his relationship with Olanna's sister, Kainene, a fierce, mysterious woman who is beholden to no one. Adichie wasn't even born when these events were unfolding, but she heard stories about the war and its aftermath from her parents and other relatives who were swept up in these apocalyptic events that ultimately led to much suffering for Nigeria's people.

Why read this book? Aside from the political and moral questions it raises, it's a compelling read with complex characters who will leave you reflecting on their stories long after you have finished the novel.
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