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Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – September 4, 2007
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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 Library Binding 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 Library Binding edition.
Top customer reviews
Genocide does not simply happen overnight, and Adichie's slow build to tension and uncomfortable rhetoric through word of mouth, radio, and witness to events provides the perfect set up for the plot. The reader gradually becomes familiar with the delicate nature of ethnic tension between the Igbo, Yoruba, and Faulani in Nigeria. It is not until Olanna leaves her safeguarded world in Nsukka that ethnic violence becomes apparent. Still, it does not seem probable to she and Odenigo's eyes that political activity could descend into a form of violence inconceivable to humanity.
Adichie's treatment of the Biafran Genocide is painstakingly thoughtful. Of course no one wants to read about children dying slow deaths, but Adichie's portrayal of the starvation that grips Biafra is necessary, because we know these facts to be true. It absorbs the reader into the then-current feeling in Biafra, thus enhancing the reader's situational awareness. Too often, people know nothing of the violence in Africa; Adichie's earnest writing style helps to change that, by not only bringing a fairly unknown historical event to light, but to do it in such a way that readers can somehow identify and / or try to understand feelings of helplessness, loss, and anxiety in a war-torn setting. Food is a universal love, and Adichie so excellently portrays the grueling discontent and disbelief of the food shortage that ultimately touches every human in the region. Additionally, her continual reference to radio and other forms of public outreach (billboards, word of mouth) help paint a picture of propaganda, fear, and hope that all take place in wartime.
Through excellent character development you come to know the main characters as if they were your friends and neighbors. She places you in the pre war time so effectively that you feel the incremental losses the characters experience and want to wake them out of their denial of what is to come.
Not an easy read because of the nature of the subject matter but a revealing and riveting experience.
Most recent customer reviews
Read everything by her, including Americanah.