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This title in other editions

Half of a Yellow Sun

by

Half of a Yellow Sun Cover

 

Awards

2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction

The Rooster 2007 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With her award-winning debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was heralded by the Washington Post Book World as "the 21st century daughter of Chinua Achebe." Now, in her masterly, haunting new novel, she recreates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria during the 1960s.

With the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Adichie weaves together the lives of five characters caught up in the extraordinary tumult of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Ugwu is houseboy to Odenigbo, a university professor who sends him to school, and in whose living room Ugwu hears voices full of revolutionary zeal. Odenigbo's beautiful mistress, Olanna, a sociology teacher, is running away from her parents' world of wealth and excess; Kainene, her urbane twin, is taking over their father's business; and Kainene's English lover, Richard, forms a bridge between their two worlds. As we follow these intertwined lives through a military coup, the Biafran secession and the subsequent war, Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise, and intimately, the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place.

Epic, ambitious and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a more powerful, dramatic and intensely emotional picture of modern Africa than any we have had before.

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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[H]ere is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers....[Adichie] is fearless..." Chinua Achebe

Review:

"Astonishing...fierce and beautifully written....Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human, always loving....[A]mbitious, impeccably researched....Penetrating...epic and confident. Adichie refuses to look away." Binyavanga Wainaina, author of Discovering Home

Review:

"When I think of how many European and American writers rehash the themes of suburban adultery or unhappy childhood, I look with awe and envy at this young woman from Africa who is recording the history of her country. She is fortunate — and we, her readers, are even luckier." Edmund White

Review:

"Vividly written, thrumming with life, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel. In its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture, this novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River." Joyce Carol Oates

Review:

"With searching insight, compassion and an unexpected yet utterly appropriate touch of wit, Adichie has created an extraordinary book, a worthy addition to the world's great tradition of large-visioned, powerfully realistic novels." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Although there is nothing ostentatiously writerly about the straightforward style of Half of a Yellow Sun, Ms. Adichie can make a large, resonant gesture when need be." Janet Maslin, New York Times

Review:

"Adichie, born seven years after the war, puts a powerfully human face on this sobering story, which is far from over." Seattle Times

Review:

"This book confirms the notion that if you want to understand a country's past, certainly you should read historical and economic texts. If you want to understand its soul, however, read its fiction." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Adichie's clear-sighted examination reveals how quickly national loyalties, even when rooted in seemingly just causes, can become entangled with self-absorption, denial and even cruelty." Newsday

Synopsis:

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 professors beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lovers charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olannas willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was also short-listed for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta and the Iowa Review among other literary journals, and she received an O. Henry Prize in 2003. She is a 2005–2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

arequipe510, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by arequipe510)
A moving and complex story, with compelling characters, that portrays the brave experiment that was Biafra and the suffering of the civil war in Nigeria. Adichie's use of language is gorgeous and her insight into each of her 5 main characters and her detail in rendering their lives is quite extraordinary.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Jason Straight, February 14, 2011 (view all comments by Jason Straight)
This book is a book about real people who never existed. Adichie is careful to show us that the characters in this book are real flesh and blood people, they eat, they drink, they have sex, they argue, they make mistakes, they do the things that real people do. The book takes a microscopic view of individual struggles and suffering withing a struggle too large and complex to admit clear understanding. A man trying to cross a border to bury his mother when 1,000,000s of soldiers and refugees are fighting over and crossing that exact border makes the macro comprehensible by the micro. What makes this book most powerful is that while it is an African book, a Nigerian book, an Igbo book--and in large part a book of one generation coming to terms with the history of a past generation--the events portrayed could have happened anywhere. It is a universal story despite being a specifically Igbo story.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
erika770, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by erika770)
Wonderful characters, precise detail, intricate but realistic plot in a novel that informs us about a war most have forgotten. Didn't want it to end, and it has never fully left my head since I read it.
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View all 8 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400095209
Author:
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
History
Subject:
Nigeria
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Political fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;nigeria;africa;biafra;war;historical fiction;orange prize;novel;1960s;african;colonialism;civil war;african literature;21st century;literature;politics;contemporary fiction;history;biafran war;love;nigerian;african fiction;sisters;contemporary;fam
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20070931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
560
Dimensions:
8 x 5.14 x 0.95 in 0.9 lb

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Half of a Yellow Sun New Trade Paper
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$15.95 In Stock
Product details 560 pages Random House - English 9781400095209 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[H]ere is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers....[Adichie] is fearless..."
"Review" by , "Astonishing...fierce and beautifully written....Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human, always loving....[A]mbitious, impeccably researched....Penetrating...epic and confident. Adichie refuses to look away."
"Review" by , "When I think of how many European and American writers rehash the themes of suburban adultery or unhappy childhood, I look with awe and envy at this young woman from Africa who is recording the history of her country. She is fortunate — and we, her readers, are even luckier."
"Review" by , "Vividly written, thrumming with life, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel. In its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture, this novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River."
"Review" by , "With searching insight, compassion and an unexpected yet utterly appropriate touch of wit, Adichie has created an extraordinary book, a worthy addition to the world's great tradition of large-visioned, powerfully realistic novels."
"Review" by , "Although there is nothing ostentatiously writerly about the straightforward style of Half of a Yellow Sun, Ms. Adichie can make a large, resonant gesture when need be."
"Review" by , "Adichie, born seven years after the war, puts a powerfully human face on this sobering story, which is far from over."
"Review" by , "This book confirms the notion that if you want to understand a country's past, certainly you should read historical and economic texts. If you want to understand its soul, however, read its fiction."
"Review" by , "Adichie's clear-sighted examination reveals how quickly national loyalties, even when rooted in seemingly just causes, can become entangled with self-absorption, denial and even cruelty."
"Synopsis" by , 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 professors beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lovers charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olannas 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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