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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,4881701,523 (4.12)1 / 896
Title:Half of a yellow sun
Authors:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author)
Info:London : Harper Perennial, 2011. Paperback.
Collections:To read, Your library
Tags:1960s, 21st century, Africa, Biafra, civil war, colonialism, fiction, historical, Nigeria, Nigerian author, novel, paperback, published 2006, war, World Book Night

Work details

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

  1. 40
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (mrstreme)
  2. 30
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2810michael)
  3. 31
    The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2810michael)
    2810michael: På dansk: En halv gul sol
  4. 10
    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)
  5. 10
    There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (chazzard)
  6. 00
    The Baobabs of Tete and Other Stories by Kari Dako (WorldreaderBCN)
  7. 00
    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.
  8. 00
    Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna (cbl_tn)
  9. 00
    The Ghost of Sani Abacha by Chuma Nwokolo (WorldreaderBCN)
  10. 00
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Iudita)
  11. 00
    Sunset at Dawn by Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: A novel about the Biafra war. Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  12. 00
    Never again by Flora Nwapa (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  13. 00
    Graceland by Chris Abani (wandering_star)

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English (150)  Danish (4)  Swedish (4)  Italian (3)  Finnish (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
An interesting novel, but hard going. ( )
  cazfrancis | Aug 10, 2014 |
A truly remarkable novel, moving and powerful in so many ways. The personal stories are all very compelling but the circumstances of Nigerian independence and the Biafran-Nigerian war add something deeper and compelling beyond just the human scale. I've read so many books lately that I haven't liked that much; this was so refreshing. It drew me in and was hard to let go of.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
Set in 1960s Nigeria, before and during the civil war that birthed —and then snuffed out— Biafra, Half of a Yellow Sun tells the story of a small middle-class family, supporters of the new country. At first, only the ideal of the academics in southern Nigeria, the move to secede gained impetus after a shift in government power that resulted in ethnic killings, based on tribal lines. The “take-no-prisoners” approach to battle launched the country into a bloodbath from 1967-1970.

Half of a Yellow Sun focuses on a middle-class professor and his family through the early 1960s and then through the war. There are reports of what the soldiers are doing, but for the most part, the emphasis is on civilians – why they supported Biafra and how the war affected them.

(S)he unfurled Odenigbo’s cloth flag and told them what the symbols meant. Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of the yellow sun stood for the glorious future.

Both of the author’s grandfathers lost their lives in the war, and Odichie writes with a familiarity of circumstance unavailable to an outsider. The story is powerful, even though it is removed from the front lines – or perhaps because it is. The exodus of refugees, erosion of living standards, and mass starvation are brought to life by this compelling novel.

It was an eye-opening history lesson for me and raises the question again of the ethics of involvement in foreign conflicts.

Read this if: you want an introduction to the history of Nigerian politics of this time; or you want to know why all those starving children stared at us from the UNICEF posters in 1969. 4½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jul 12, 2014 |
The Nigerian Biafra War of 1967-70 as shown how it affected the lives of several Nigerians caught up in those horrible times. The author sympathetically portrays several characters as representative of all the people. It was a violent time of upheaval: tribe against tribe. This novel brings it home through these people's stories: two expatriates: Odenigbo, a professor; Richard Churchill, a journalist; their twin-sister mistresses, and a young houseboy, Ugwu. The terrible suffering, starvation, disease and violence the people lived through was heart-rending. The section about Richard and the foreign journalists showed so clearly the insensitivity of the outside world. The title comes from the 'half of a yellow sun' shown on the Biafra flag . The book, besides the horrendousness of events, shows waning colonialism and the power of love. These people cling together despite their world falling apart. I learned something of the history of this period from this book, but oh, it was a bleak and depressing time! The author did a marvelous job of conveying her world, but it was so sad. This novel includes several trenchant excerpts from a book Richard writes analyzing this conflict; the title expresses exactly the attitude of the outside world: "The World was Silent When We Died". I wish the author had put in a glossary of Igbo and other African-language terms. Some I could figure out by context if in dialogue, but others, such as foods, escaped me. ( )
  janerawoof | Jul 3, 2014 |
How long do you think it would have taken Europe to move past the Middle Ages had there been no crusades or colonialism or any other garroting movement of one culture extending into another and taking back what it sees fit? What explains the disparity between the defeat of Germany and the crushing of Biafra beyond the matters of infrastructure and economic needs of cosmopolitan borders? Why is it that I have childhood memories of eat up, eat up, the children in Africa are starving, and it is only now that I discover the reality behind it? You say it was my fault that I didn't educate myself enough beyond the white-washed gilt of my blowhard Americanisms of the Millennial world; I ask what the fuck was all my schooling and 'respectable upbringing' for, if that wasn't a guarantee. There is a reason for the swamp of World War II pathos in entertainment, for the sniffing at "affirmative action" and "academics", for the pretenses of post-racism post-feminism post-"quality literature", and it's not me.

I am a sucker for meaning and prettied up prose, I will grant you that. What I will refuse you is the promise that this work is more of the same. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a gift, a gift, and she more than deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature. I'd be angrier about the old white men ubiquity of that shiny shiny shit for credibility if I thought it deserved her.

Everyone knows the race question, the gender question, the power wielded through physiognomy and character definition, but few know how to deal with it. Fewer are those who can incorporate all that into a narrative that acknowledges the pain without focusing the guilt. If you get your hackles up over Adichie's portrayal of any of the humans here, make sure you take the time to reflect on the hows and wherefores, for unless you have a connection to Biafra lined with blood and guts instead of photographs and TIME magazine, she didn't write it for you. What a wonder, then, that this work has gotten the recognition it deserves. Almost a sign of hope for the myriad of worlds that are being continually passed over for the same old facile bigotry, but hey. Let's not get comfortable here.

'The war isn't my story to tell, really.'
Ugwu nodded. He had never thought that it was.

Rare is the work which shows every character's flaws in an ugly world without ever declaring its citizens the same. Rare is the author who embodies a fundamentally different persona without extenuating bitterness, removing the question of 'objectivity' and all its lying obfuscation from the table completely in her effort to tell a story of her heritage. There is an evil in these pages of hers that she refuses to separate out into a single entity, a lazy route that denies the reality of succulent coercion and silent conformation and relegates our lives along the lines of political ignorance and feel good charity. You are as compromised as I, and if you think I point this out due to vindictive holier-than-thou, forget it. My incentives are helplessness and rage, my methods are writing and contextualization, and if recent misogynistic extremism fuels my efforts more than Adichie's prose, well. Knowing my audience, you'll pay attention regardless.

Ugwu thanked him and shook his head and realized that he would never be able to capture that child on paper, never be able to describe well enough the fear that dulled the eyes of mothers in the refugee camp when the bomber planes charged out of the sky. He would never be able to depict the very bleakness of bombing hungry people. But he tried, and the more he wrote, the less he dreamed.

There is redemption here in all the right ways, but not for you. The bigger the gaping maw in your chest, the better. ( )
  Korrick | May 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (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 (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngoziprimary authorall 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:43 -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)

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