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Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,0102941,348 (4.15)1 / 1300
A haunting story of love and war from the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists. With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor's beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover's charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna's willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.… (more)
  1. 110
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (mrstreme)
  2. 51
    The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2810michael)
    2810michael: På dansk: En halv gul sol
  3. 40
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2810michael)
  4. 20
    Never Again (Africa Women Writers Series) by Flora Nwapa (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  5. 20
    There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (chazzard)
  6. 20
    Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna (cbl_tn)
  7. 10
    Sunset at Dawn by Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike (goddesspt2)
    goddesspt2: A novel about the Biafra war. Cited by Adichie in her Author's Note.
  8. 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)
  9. 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.
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    The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir by Wayétu Moore (susanbooks)
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    The Road to the Country by Chigozie Obioma (kjuliff)
Africa (13)
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» See also 1300 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
Set in the 1960’s this book follows 5 intertwined characters in the midst of the Biafra revolution. Ugwu, a teenage houseboy, serves Odenigbo, a university professor with a passion for revolution. Olanna, the professor’s love, is a twin to Kainene, who is loved by Richard, an English transplant.

The characters throughout this novel were dynamic and well rounded. The story itself felt slow paced, it seemed to take a long time to build up the plot. The war itself was heartbreaking and horrible. Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. ( )
  JanaRose1 | May 8, 2024 |
This is a beautiful and difficult book. Difficult because of the painful narratives of the Biafran War, but beautiful in the characters who are so vivid and real in their flaws, their hopes, and their lived existence. We meet Ugwu, a thirteen year old boy from a small village who works as a servant for Odenigbo, Professor of Mathematics at Nsukka University. Odenigbo's girlfriend, then wife, is Olanna, daughter of the influential Chief Ozobia, and more significantly, twin sister to Kainene, who was one of my favorite characters in the book. Not blessed with Olanna's commonly-accepted beauty, Kainene is fearless, acerbic, and honest (especially in the latter half of the book when war reaches her heart). Kaynene takes up with Richard, an English writer who comes to Nigeria to write a book about the art. Adichie artfully uses Richard to express the more subtle racism (whereas his ex-girlfriend is outright and obviously racist). For example, in Chapter 6, Kainene says to Richard: "...it's wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It's possible to love something, and still condescend to it." This powerful statement is made after Richard is called out at a party for going on and on about the amazing details and complexity of some African bronzes, not realizing the implication of his surprise--why would they NOT be amazing and complex? Richard is one of the three main narrative voices and the way he grows, partially due to his love for and relationship with Kainene, is really thoughtful and not a single narrative. None of the main characters are unidimensional. Odenigbo moves from idealist to grieving son. Ugwu moves from innocent to war-worn and morally compromised. But perhaps it is mostly the story of the two sisters, Olanna and Kainene where this book touched me most. The horrors of war have their own narratives, but Adichie does not lose sight of the human story that perseveres -- love, betrayal, friendship, enmity--everyone with a heart that has to question some of the time.

Adichie does not sidestep some of the particulars of the Biafran War, however. The book is an opportunity to understand better (particularly for those of us who were not taught about the Igbo and the Hausa) the complex politics, racism, and global manipulations/voyeurism that brought about between 500,000 and two million Biafran civilians dying of starvation. ( )
  rebcamuse | Apr 12, 2024 |
Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun is set in Nigeria during the Biafran War at the end of the 1960s and sheds light onto the life in Nigeria at the time from the very personal perspectives of the characters. Protagonists Odenigbo and Olanna live in the university city of Nsukka and lead a rather quiet life before the war. There are frequent gatherings at their home where politics in the country are discussed and there is a very theoretical side to these discussions that permeates the beginning of the novel. When war breaks out, the protagonists' lives are thrown into turmoil and time and again lower and lower living standards and an increasing fear of death become the new normal. Through a variety of characters from different parts of society Adichie manages to portray the consequences of war through a multitude of lenses, each with a different focus. What it comes down to in the end - no matter what the characters' social background was - is friendships, relationships and love. Will I be able to see my mother, my sister, my beloved one again? When will this war be over? Will my child survive?

I found Adichie's novel a very enlightening read that really gripped me at times, but I also had to put it away every now and then. The suffering and the constant fear of loss in every possible sense of the word was put into words so well that it made me really sad. Living in a western country that is safe, I think it is important to read novels like Half of a Yellow Sun as they hold up the mirror to one's own life and make you question if not more could be done to help those in need when it might just be the coincidence of birth that put you into the life you are leading. 4 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Dec 22, 2023 |
This was a very interesting read. The story is set during the Biafran War, which, I am ashamed to say, I knew very little about, so this was a good opportunity to find out a little bit more about the whole event. And obviously, being I as curious as I am, prompted some independent research into the history of Nigeria and the tragedy of this war. We witness history unfold through the eyes of three main characters: the beautiful and smart Olanna, who abandons her wealthy family to live with the revolutionary professor Odenigbo; their servant boy Ugwu; and the English writer Richard, who is desperately in love with Olanna's twin sister Kainene.

I loved how the author managed to show the way in which war affected the characters, and brought out the best and the worst in all of them as they were forced to face unimaginable difficulties, poverty, hunger and tragedy. All of the main characters underwent significant change as a result of the war, both in their personalities and responses to the adversities they must face, and in their view of the world, as their ideals and political opinions are ultimately crushed. The author was really good at describing the horrors of the war and, even though some images were slightly too graphic for my taste, it was never overwhelming or distracting from the main point she was trying to make in the specific moment.

Overall, this was a really good book, and I can totally see why it was celebrated as much as it was. The only reason I'm not giving it full marks is because I found the author's prose, while for the most part excellent, was at times slightly too stiff and formal, and some of the characters reacted in way which, to me, seemed somewhat inconsistent with their personality as had been described up to that moment. But that may just be me being too critical, and this is an excellent book nonetheless.

Originally posted on Book for Thought. ( )
  bookforthought | Nov 7, 2023 |
An excellent book, with powerful, absorbing writing. The characters are complex, interesting and feel very real. The author explores multiple aspects of society in Nigeria and Biafra, spanning classes, urban/rural divides and gender.

I can't wait to read her other book, Purple Hibscus [b:Purple Hibiscus|126381|Purple Hibiscus|Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171914358s/126381.jpg|1057017] ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (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, AdjoaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edet, UnyimeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sundström, JoakimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
'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.
The Book: The World Was Silent When We Died
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

A haunting story of love and war from the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists. With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor's beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover's charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna's willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.

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