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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi…

Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,2862561,374 (4.15)1 / 1143
The sweeping new novel from the author of Purple Hibiscus.This sweeping new novel from the author of Purple Hibiscus is set in Nigeria in the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war in which a million people died, and thousands were massacred in cold blood.The three main characters in the novel get swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer's house. The other is a young middle-class woman, Olanna, who has to confront the reality of the massacre of her relatives. And the other is a white man, a writer who lives in Nigeria for no clear reason, and who falls in love with Olanna's sister, a remote and enigmatic character.As these people's lives intersect, they have to question their own responses to the unfolding political events. This extraordinary novel is about Africa in a wider sense: about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic and tribal allegiances, about class and race; and the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.Chimanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004.… (more)
  1. 80
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (mrstreme)
  2. 40
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2810michael)
  3. 41
    The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2810michael)
    2810michael: På dansk: En halv gul sol
  4. 20
    There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (chazzard)
  5. 20
    Never Again (Africa Women Writers Series) by Flora Nwapa (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  6. 10
    A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (imyril)
    imyril: Another difficult novel of modern Africa, focusing on the Nigeria civil war and the Biafra famine rather than Rwanda.
  7. 10
    Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna (cbl_tn)
  8. 10
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Iudita)
  9. 21
    The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The stories of a impoverished countryside boy and two upper-class sisters are told against the backdrop of the 1960s Biafran War. This book, by one of Nigeria's most famous authors, should appeal to readers interested in Nigeria's history, Nigerian society and the lives of women in Nigeria.… (more)
  10. 10
    Sunset at Dawn by Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: A novel about the Biafra war. Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  11. 00
    The Baobabs of Tete and Other Stories by Kari Dako (WorldreaderBCN)
  12. 00
    The Ghost of Sani Abacha by Chuma Nwokolo (WorldreaderBCN)
  13. 00
    Graceland by Chris Abani (wandering_star)

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English (235)  Finnish (4)  Swedish (4)  Italian (4)  Danish (4)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (256)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
This is definitely my favourite book that I've read so far this year - and I know that it being February means that there's plenty of time for that to change, but the point is, I thought that this book was amazing.

The problem with loving a book so much is that I don't have much to put in a review of it. The one thing I didn't get was why parts two and three are in the order they are. That is, chronologically part three comes before part two (the rest of the parts being in order) and I just don't know what the purpose of that was? All it meant was that I spent part two mildly frustrated at this mystery being built up surrounding the circumstances of Baby's birth, and by the time I was reading part three I already knew how everything was going to turn out - that Olanna would forgive Odenigbo and Kainene would forgive Richard, because I'd just read about them being perfectly happy in part two. And also, that the baby would end up being raised by Olanna and Odenigbo, because that's what was happening in part two, after all.

But it didn't bother me that much - the novel works the way it is, I just think it also would have worked without the middle two parts being swapped, and I don't understand what swapping them really achieved.

Anyway. The novel as a whole has a sense of the inevitable about it, so maybe that's another reason why it didn't bother me. After all, it's a historical novel, and honestly I had never heard of Biafra before reading this book, so I was pretty sure they were going to lose their war of independence. But within that, there was still suspense. Bad things would happen, but what bad things? Characters were dying left right and centre, with only the five characters at the novel's core seeming immune - so I guessed that at the end something bad, like death, would befall one of them and that would be the climax... but that didn't really happen. There was the fake-out where Ugwu seemed to have died, but then he came back and recovered, and of course there was Kainene's mysterious disappearance that DEVASTATED ME FOREVER because she was the most engaging character to me, but her disappearance didn't seem much of a "climax" to the book, even though it happened at the end. In the end, the way the book ends seems to mirror the end of the war it's set in; it's exhausted and devastated, and there's nothing left to go wrong because there's nothing left.

I skim-read some reviews here on Goodreads and there were some complaints about the characters - that they were unrealistic, too perfect, or unengaging. I found none of these to be the case. To the contrary, they were all very imperfect but you could see how their backgrounds and social positions made them what they were. In particular, one of the reviews I skimmed complained that Richard was so anti-racist it was painful, but I still thought he was anti-racist in a very "privileged white person" way. He gets excited about Biafra's declaration of independence because he thinks this means he can be a native Biafran, and he spends half the book irritated that this or that person considers him an outsider, when can't they hear he speaks Igbo?! (Even though at some point late in the book he admits that "idioms and dialects elude him" - which would seem to mean a lot of spoken Igbo...) The point is that he, just like every other character, has flaws.

Another of the criticisms I read is that this book is hard to understand if you don't know anything about Nigerian history; well honestly, I knew practically nothing, and got completely absorbed in this book all the same. So while it may have been the experience of that person, I really don't think people should avoid the book, or postpone reading it in favour of another one, for that reason.

In fact, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. The characters are very real and engaging, I found the storyline compelling, the book never seemed to drag in spite of its length. There's a lot of sex scenes, if that influences your decision. Just read it because I loved it, and I'm sure that people aside from me would love it, too. (Feb 2013) ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
Read 2016, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 8, 2020 |
Can an interesting historical setting and reasonably well crafted suspense make up for detached, shallow characters? It's that strange combination of a page turner that isn't that likable. You want to know what happens but don't get to savor the process of finding out. Everyone that shows up in the story is typecast fairly narrow and never really breaks out of that. Yet, the writing is competent. So it's a the kind of thing you read, feel conflicted about, but don't regret having spent the time. It is fairly clear about it's agenda, although it would have been nice to see a somewhat more balanced framing of the situation. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
"Senare tog Ugwu en promenad genom byn. När han kom fram till floden kom han att tänka på kvinnorna som brukade gå dit i långa led på morgnarna och hämta vatten. Han satte sig ner på en sten och började gråta."

Det har gått nästan två månader sedan jag läste klart den här boken, men jag vet fortfarande inte riktigt vad jag ska säga. Möjligtvis är jag lite ringrostig gällande recensioner, men till störst del är det för att just den här boken är... så otroligt mäktig. Varje bok är en erfarenhet, men en del är även en Erfarenhet. En halv gul sol är en Erfarenhet - en rå men fantastiskt sådan. Det handlar inte bara om det nigerianska inbördeskriget som jag tidigare endast visste var en händelse, men inte mer än så. Men så är det med Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Samtidigt som jag älskar hennes böcker som de berättelser de är så är det svårt att inte alltid känna att jag kanske inte förstår världen så mycket bättre, men jag vet åtminstone lite mer om den. ( )
  autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
A very beautiful, touching novel. But also one that drags somewhat in the middle. The attempt to blend together national tragedy with personal soap opera was not completely successful. ( )
  ajdesasha | Nov 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
While there are disturbing scenes, the writing is superb, and Adichie puts a human face on war-torn Africa. The characters are authentic, the story is compelling. It is a worthwhile read, which will linger in your thoughts long after you turn the last page.

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngoziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andoh, AdjoaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sundström, JoakimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Today I see it still--

Dry, wire-thin in sun and dust of the dry months--

Headstone on tiny debris of passionate courage.--

Chinua Achebe,

From "Mango Seedling" in

Christmas in Biafra and Other Poems
My grandfathers, whom I never knew,
Nwoye David Adichie and Aro-Nweke Felix Odigwe,
did not survive the war.
My grandmothers, Nwabuodu Regina Odigwe and Nwamgbafor Agnes Adiche, remarkable women
both, did.
This book is dedicated to their memories:
ka fa nodu na ndokwa.
And to Mellitus, wherever he may be.
First words
Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair.
'I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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