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.
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.
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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.
Felicity, September 5, 2010 (view all comments by Felicity)
I liked Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus, so I picked up her second, more ambitious book. It's set before and during the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970.
I don't call this book more ambitious than Purple Hibiscus just because it tackles a war within living memory. It has multiple points of view, and executes a few small chronological jumps. Each of the point-of-view characters, who differ in age, race, gender and class, traces a believable and human arc. This is no small feat, and Adichie pulls it off handily. She does a beautiful job of showing us large events through individual lives.
Adichie tells a complex and disturbing story with a large, vivid cast, and draws it to an ending that feels true. A remarkable book.
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Janis M., January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Janis M.)
This book introduced me to Nigerian's diverse socio-economic strata and rich history. It is well written. I could not put it down. The plot was reminiscent of a Graham Greene or Ernest Hemingway novel. I highly recommend this book, and I have to many friends. It has not disappointed them. I would love to see a movie made based on this book. It was also helpful in providing an understanding of some of the recent troubles that took place or originated in Nigeria.
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Random House -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
by Chinua Achebe,
"[H]ere is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers....[Adichie] is fearless..."
by Binyavanga Wainaina, author of Discovering Home,
"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."
by Edmund White,
"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."
by Joyce Carol Oates,
"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."
by Los Angeles Times,
"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."
by Janet Maslin, New York 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."
by Seattle Times,
"Adichie, born seven years after the war, puts a powerfully human face on this sobering story, which is far from over."
by Minneapolis Star Tribune,
"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."
"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."
A moving debut story collection centered on Nigerian women, as they build lives out of longing and hope, faith and doubt, the struggle to stay and the mandate to leave, and the burden and strength of love.
"Astonishing. Okparantas narrators render their stories with such strength and intimacy, such lucidity and composure, that in each and every case the truths of their lives detonate deep inside the readers heart, with the power and force of revelation."—Paul Harding
Here are Nigerian women at home and transplanted to the United States, building lives out of longing and hope, faith and doubt, the struggle to stay and the mandate to leave, the burden and strength of love. Here are characters faced with dangerous decisions, children slick with oil from the river, a woman in love with another despite the penalties. Here is a world marked by electricity outages, lush landscapes, folktales, buses that break down and never start up again. Here is a portrait of Nigerians that is surprising, shocking, heartrending, loving, and across social strata, dealing in every kind of change. Here are stories filled with language to make your eyes pause and your throat catch. Happiness, Like Water introduces a true talent, a young writer with a beautiful heart and a capacious imagination.
"Intricate, graceful prose propels Okparantas profoundly moving and illuminating book. I devoured these stories and immediately wanted more. This is an arrival."—NoViolet Bulawayo
"Okparanta's prose is tender, beautiful and evocative. These powerful stories of contemporary Nigeria are told with compassion and a certain sense of humor. What a remarkable new talent."—Chika Unigwe
"A haunting and startlingly original collection of short stories about the lives of Nigerians both at home and in America. Happiness, Like Water is a deeply affecting literary debut, the work of a sure and gifted new writer."—Julie Otsuka
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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