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Half of a yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi…

Half of a yellow sun (original 2006; edition 2011)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author), Jeni Thompson (Cover photographer), Vania Leles (Cover model)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3342241,142 (4.14)1 / 1016
Title:Half of a yellow sun
Authors:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author)
Other authors:Jeni Thompson (Cover photographer), Vania Leles (Cover model)
Info:London : Harper Perennial, 2011. Paperback.
Collections:Purged, Unread unowned, Wishlist, To borrow
Tags:1960s, 21st century, Africa, Biafra, civil war, colonialism, fiction, historical, Nigeria, Nigerian author, novel, paperback, war, World Book Night

Work details

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

  1. 60
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (mrstreme)
  2. 50
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2810michael)
  3. 41
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    2810michael: På dansk: En halv gul sol
  4. 20
    There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (chazzard)
  5. 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.
  6. 10
    Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna (cbl_tn)
  7. 21
    Little Bee: A Novel 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)
  8. 10
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Iudita)
  9. 10
    Never Again (Africa Women Writers Series) by Flora Nwapa (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  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 (204)  Swedish (4)  Finnish (4)  Danish (4)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  All (223)
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
bleak and too long. glad I got the history lesson on Nigeria though. felt like with all the tragedy of war, the least the author could do was finish all the characters' stories. ( )
  mfabriz | Jun 26, 2017 |
Some novels just tear the insides of our mind, and ask us to rethink the smugness of our lives, and that numbing placidity with which we think we control our life. Chimamanda's first book, that brilliant Purple Hibiscus, made me yearn enough to reach out to a bookshop, and place an order for Half of a Yellow Sun. So on a cloudy day, I began the book over the weekend. In around 24 hours, I had finished it. I stayed up late till 2AM reading, and getting up again at 7AM to continue through the day...and like Margaret Foster says, I read the last 50 pages in a rush, 'because I couldn't bear to let it go.'

Mesmerizing. Here indeed is a rare talent - the writer who has the ability to convey history as a painful memory that resides deep within the horrors of war. Chimamanda Adichie did not live through the horrors of the Biafran War. But such is the thriving power of Adichie's writing, that I didn't feel the remoteness of her self from the war - Chimamanda seemed just as much a product of Biafra as Nigeria's conscience is enslaved by Biafra. Half of a Yellow Sun centers around the twin sisters, Olanna, and Kainene, and the men in their lives - the intellectual Odenigbo who Olanna later marries in the novel, and the Englishman Richard, who is held in thrall by Kainene. Not to be left out is the powerful, moving character of Odenigbo's houseboy, Ugwu.

The New York Times seemed to be critical of what it termed as 'slack prose,' but then, I, really, for the life of me, cannot understand or agree with it. Eloquent, alluring, and compelling, Half of a Yellow Sun should be made compulsory reading - for all of us who shrug life, and for those of us who embrace it too closely as but the prologue to death. I simply cannot recommend this book enough. If reading is transcending, then Half of a Yellow Sun is transcendental meditation. But then again, don't take my word for it. ;-) ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
4.5 ( )
  tifhayes | May 22, 2017 |
This story is set around 1967 to 1970 during Nigeria's Biafran war. It is narrated by Ugwu, who works in the household of Odenigbo. Odenigbo's partner is Olanna, and she has a twin sister Kainene. The novel centers around the families of all these people as well as the war itself. The novel appeared to be well-written although the editor needed to do additional work in some of the non-spoken sections to make those conform to grammatical rules and to get rid of passive tenses. As I read the story, I wondered how the war affected some friends I met in graduate school who lived in Nigeria during that time. Sadly I lost touch with them so I may never know the answer. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 11, 2017 |
I wish we could give 4.5 stars (or can we??). I loved Purple Hibiscus and I really enjoyed this book too. The story takes us into the lives of an extended family of intellectuals, their staff and their friends, set during the Biafran struggle and ultimate failure to secede from Nigeria in the late 1960's. Reading this now you see it could be the story of many places currently struggling for freedom today.

A family saga of sorts with lots of richly drawn characters, yet tightly edited to keep the reader engaged, Half of a Yellow Sun is deserving of all its accolades. Perhaps my favourite feature of the story is that the ending is written in such a way as to invoke in the reader empathy with the characters. We are left feeling confused, hopeful and this made me realise how many people must be completely displaced by war.

I always enjoy a novel that manages to not only entertain, but educate us on a topic or slice of history. The author has used a structure whereby you move from pre-war to the time during the war in 4 sections. This cleverly moves the story along without diluting the wartime experience. I think a straight chronological order would have seen the reader becoming bogged down in the reality of their daily struggles, the misery of their new existence and their material losses, rather than understanding how each character evolves (or not in some cases). Adichie does not shy away from describing the violence and the cruelty suffered by the Biafrans, or the complexities of family loyalty either.

I expect lots of further non fiction reading will be inspired by this book. A very good book club book too, as there are so many discussion points. We discussed the themes of power & forgiveness; the way the war was conducted and the general historical context; the parallels with our current global strife; and whether the title "best of the best" was deserved and what are the parameters by which a book is judged. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 204 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngoziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andoh, AdjoaReadersecondary 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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007200285, Paperback)

In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna's enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race - and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A novel set during Nigeria's struggle for independence in the 1960s involving five characters including thirteen-year-old Ugwu, a university professor, the professor's mistress, and a young Englishman named Richard.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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