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Half of a Yellow Sunby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"[H]ere is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers....
"Astonishing...fierce and beautifully written....Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human, always loving....
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Adichie, born seven years after the war, puts a powerfully human face on this sobering story, which is far from over." Seattle Times
"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
"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
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 20052006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
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