- Paperback: 543 pages
- Publisher: Anchor (September 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400095204
- ISBN-13: 978-1400095209
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (951 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – September 4, 2007
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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 Audio CD edition.
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 the Audio CD edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
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. Using this war as the background, the author has written a story involving five central characters: Ugwu, aged 13, who arrives at professor Odenigbo's house to work as a houseboy, and Olanna, a beautiful young woman who chooses to become Odenigbo's mistress, and Olanna's not so lovely twin sister Kainene, who is in love with Richard, an Englishman. Because other reviewers have narrated the story in brief, I do not feel the need to narrate it again.
There are beautiful, subtly erotic passages, as well as graphic passages depicting sex and violence and blood-curdling brutality. I have no doubt that similar incidents, as depicted here, did indeed occur in Biafra. But you need to have an iron stomach to be able to read these passages without feeling sick and fearful.
I wish to conclude on a cheerful note however, because I really admired this novel, and so here is a passage I wish to quote. Even though it is slightly erotic, I found it quite lovely: "But he liked going on errands to her house. They were opportunities to find her bent over, fanning the firewood or chopping ugu leaves for her mother's soup pot, or just sitting outside looking after her younger siblings, her wrapper hanging low enough for him to see the tops of her breasts."
This is truly a memorable novel; but it's not for the weak-hearted. It's even more impressive and more accomplished than her critically acclaimed first novel, Purple Hibiscus. "Half of a Yellow Sun" is an apt title, perhaps; but the novel is luminous like a full moon.
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. She has also written a history of the Igbos during a certain period of time. Finally she has presented a literary monument to love and relationships and hope and human dignity. Her characters - - their lives, their triumphs, and their failures - speak to the enduringness of love and truth and the dominance of the human spirit.
It is simply amazing that Chimamanda is only 28 years' old -- she was born 7 years after the war ended. Yet she tells her story with a level of insight, maturity, compassion, knowledge and deftness that belies her age. It is abundantly clear that her writing is the product of tremendous research on her part of the events that led up to and including the civil war. This is fiction based on facts - or "faction."
Chimamanda's characters are seen in every day life in Nigeria. Ugwu exists in several houseboys in Nigeria with ambition and intelligence who continue to rise by dint of application of their brains and hard work and focus to attainment of lives of accomplishment. Ugwu's sense of ownership of his Master, Madam and Baby is quite widespread among faithful houseboys. Odenigbo - the professor of mathematics at University of Nigeria, Nsukka -- is the quintessential intellectual, perhaps, with his head caught up in the clouds with numerous ideological constructs and deconstructs. Kainene and Olanna are extremely human characters whose sisterly relationship with each other ironically blossomed in the midst of the war - and became warmer as they came to experience the horrors of the civil war together. Richard comes across as familiarly tragic - wanting to belong to and in Biafra and never belonging or never accepted as belonging.
Which brings us to the concept of belonging. It is a concept that Chimamanda explores in her novel. Miss Adebayo was never seen as belonging; and of course, neither was Richard. Indeed, the Igbos who had lived in the Northern part of Nigeria for several decades were never seen as belonging. Nor were the Igbos who had lived in Lagos: Chinua Achebe escaped death in Lagos during the massacre of Igbos by a hairsbreadth. The parallels between Igbos and the Jews are really striking. Belonging is a potent concept; witness the current acrimonious debate raging in the industrialized countries over immigration, which is inextricably linked to who belongs and who does not.
This is a story that has universal applications even as it is largely set in Igbo land. It tells the story of political conflict and war and love and hate and betrayal and oppression and human affirmation that is contemporary and resonates with the human condition.
It will be eminently interesting to see how this "transcendent novel" in the words of Publishers Weekly - which has been received with great literary acclaim in the United States and Europe - will be received in Nigeria. It is safe to predict that it will be seen in certain quarters through dogmatic lenses that will uncritically seek to brazenly question the novel's premises. But this will be largely besides the point - because Chimamanda has rendered a classic and has told a story about a historical necessity - the defense of and by a people from being wiped out from the face of the map.
Just a few quibbles. It was 20 and not 50 pounds that was vengefully decreed by the Government of Nigeria as the amount to be (and which was) given in exchange for all the money held by each former Biafran. Before the war, Cross River Igbos would have been referred to as Bende people and not Imo people. And the settlement in Port-Harcourt would have been called Umuokirisi and not Rumuokirisi - that came after the war. But these are mere quibbles and do not affect the historical accuracy of the novel regarding the lives and times of the Igbos before and during the civil war.
Chimamanda has rightly been described as the 21st-century successor to Chinua Achebe, and she indeed displays the same sophisticated simplicity in her writing and similar deep historical insights laced with philosophical wisdom. Indeed, Achebe describes her as being "endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers" and asserts that she "came almost fully made." The serious bent of her writings is to be widely applauded. There surely is a literary ferment afoot among young Nigerian writers in the diaspora. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is at the crest of that ferment. To end with Achebe's words: In writing Half of a Yellow Sun, "Adichie knows what is at stake and what to do about it."