Saturday, September 29, 2007

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a haunting novel. Originally published in 2006, Half of a Yellow Sun won the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. My paperback copy has 544 pages.

From Amazon:
"Publishers Weekly Starred 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. Copyright © Reed Business Information"

This novel will grip you, especially since it is based on a real historical event in African history - the civil war between Biafra and Nigeria during the 1960s. Although the novel started out a bit slowly, it soon grabs you and will keep you up way too late at night trying to find out what happens to the characters next. Adichie tells the story by alternating between the voices and point of view of the characters Alonna, Ugwu, and Richard. It works well for the story. Half of a Yellow Sun is highly recommended.

"But he understood even as a young boy that it was not that they did not love him, rather it was that they often forgot they did because they loved each other too much."

[T]he sun was intense, a piercing white hotness that made him imagine his body fluids evaporating, drying out, and he was relieved to get inside the cool building."

"...waving his Biafran flag: swaths of red, black, and green, and, at the center, a luminous half of a yellow sun."

" 'Don't see it as forgiving him. See it as allowing yourself to be happy. What will you do with the misery you have chosen? Will you eat misery?'
Olanna looked at the crucifix above the windows, at the face of Christ serene in agony, and said nothing."

"Grandpa used to say, about difficulties he had gone through, 'It did not kill me, it made me knowledgeable.' "

1 comment:

Maw Books said...

I just put this book on my TBR just this week and am highly looking forward to it.