Half of a Yellow Sun
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Half of a Yellow Sun

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  24,988 ratings  ·  2,811 reviews
In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna's enigmatic twin sister. As the horrifi...more
Hardcover, 433 pages
Published August 21st 2006 by Fourth Estate (first published 2006)
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Samadrita
It came to me as an epiphany as I barreled through the last few pages of this book, blanketed in my Sunday evening lethargy, marveling at Adichie's graceful evocation of a forgotten time and place and feeling the embarrassment of having known nothing about the Biafran war, that somewhere in the Gaza strip the maimed bodies of children must lie strewn amidst the debris of their former lives while vicious debates rage on twitter in which people pick a side - Israel or Hamas - to defend from critic...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 15, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
Shelves: 1001-non-core, race
Magic. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born 1977) seemed to possess a magic wand that she was able to weave a story that was not supposed to be interesting for me: an Asian who have not been to Africa except seeing parts of that continent in the movies and reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Adichie turned an “uninteresting” story that speaks lucidly, bravely and beautifully about that tumultuous event that happened in her country Nigeria during the latter part of the 60’s when she was not even...more
Milan/zzz
She did it again. And she did it (again) masterfully! While reading this novel I was often thinking of García Márquez’s words: ”The worst enemy of politicians is a writer” and I would amplify that with not only of politicians. Now, I’m not sure if Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had intention to accuse (probably not) but you cannot avoid truth and, as always truth is hurting so badly.

Half of a Yellow Sun (related with Biafran flag, look the photo) is a story about birth and short life of Biafra, li...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
An extraordinary novel about a time/place that I know little about except - as the author mentions through one of her characters - as the device used by Western parents to get their children to finish their dinners.

What is amazing about this novel is how Adichie creates a set of characters involved in regular domestic affairs (working, studying, falling in love, being in love, cheating or worried about cheating, finding an identity, growing up, just generally living, etc. etc.) within the conte...more
Rowena
A few months ago I read Chinua Achebe’s autobiography, “There Was a Country”, which depicted Nigeria’s Biafran War (1967-1970). This book also deals with the events before and leading up to the war.

This book was marvelous. The story just flows for the most part and the language used is so evocative. I’m sure people who have visited or lived in Africa will appreciate the descriptions of African life, African mentality, humour, nature and so on.

I have to admit, I much preferred the first half to...more
Megha

I read only about one-third of this novel. Adichie's (CNA) writing doesn't agree with me at all. And the characters are so flat they should be able to slide under a door trouble-free. The characters don't even bother to play their role with its limited definition. Instead they keep pounding their fists on a table and shouting out what their role is supposed to be: "I am a sardonic bitch.", "I am sooo non-racist you won't even believe it", "blah blah".

Ouch! My head hurts.

One type of characters I...more
Philip
Something of a disappointment

It is not often that a novel comes to hand that has been prized, praised and pre-inflated. Half of a Yellow Sun was in that category when I opened it and began to read. And I was captivated immediately. I read the first hundred pages at a pace, delighting in the ease with which the Chimanada Ngozi Adichie used language to draw me into the middle-class clique centred on the University of Nsukka which provides the core characters of her book. Their infidelities, their...more
Tony
Did you see the photos in sixty-eight
Of children with their hair becoming rust:
Sickly patches nestled on those small heads.
Then falling off, like rotten leaves on dust?


_____ _____ _____ _____

I would have been in grade school, or just entering high school. Adolescent discomfiture was the main thing on my mind. What I knew of the larger world came from photojournalism: Life magazine pictures. Those images, it turns out, were permanent: fire hoses turned on in the South; bombs mushrooming above an...more
Aubrey
How long do you think it would have taken Europe to move past the Middle Ages had there been no crusades or colonialism or any other garroting movement of one culture extending into another and taking back what it sees fit? What explains the disparity between the defeat of Germany and the crushing of Biafra beyond the matters of infrastructure and economic needs of cosmopolitan borders? Why is it that I have childhood memories of eat up, eat up, the children in Africa are starving, and it is onl...more
Nicole~
The world has to know the truth of what is happening because they simply cannot remain silent while we die. - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie's novel illuminates the reality and disintegration of Nigerian life in wartime during the 1960s. The Biafran war waged between 1967-70 was Nigeria's politically and ethnically charged battle of North vs South, specifically the southeastern region, where the unsuccessful fight for secession left 1 million civilians dead. Half of a yellow sun describes the...more
Bette BookAddict
May 13, 2014 Bette BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bette BookAddict by: Heather for Recommendation Swap
Shelves: rec-swap, fiction

For my review, I have selected a poem featured very near the end of this devastatingly real and haunting novel. Written by the character Okeoma who apparently is based on the real poet Christopher Okigbo.

The World Was Silent When We Died

Did you see photos in sixty-eight
Of Children with their hair becoming rust:
Sickly patches nestled on those small heads,
Then falling off, like rotten leaves on dust?

Imagine children with arms like toothpicks,
With footballs for bellies and skin stretched thin.
It wa
...more
Christina
"May we always remember." This is how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ends her author's note at the back of this book about the Nigeria-Biafra war 1967-70. But the thing is - I didn't know about this war before reading this novel. In fact - I had never even heard of Biafra before...

So this novel did what I love when fiction do - it captured me by it's story while at the same time I learned something new. And even though Adichie didn't dive into the blood and gore of war, she manage to paint a pretty gr...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is the powerful true story of the tragic civil war in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970, and the creation and defeat of Biafra. Nigeria itself is a fairly modern creation, like most African countries, its borders formed by its colonisers. And like Rwanda, differences between tribes were encouraged and fostered by the colonisers until they reached a peak of hate and murder. I didn't know this about Nigeria. I knew, from reading Say You’re One of Them and Little Bee that persecution and strife er...more
Margitte
Finished reading July 03, 2013
Brilliant book - once again.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes in detail and manages to keep the reader glued to the book.For those who want to understand what the African Renaissance is all about, this is the kind of book that will shed some valuable light on the current challenges being addressed. It is huge, brutal, dangerous and probably never-ending.

So by the way, I do not think colonialism is over. It just changed outfits. This battle is not over at all. For thos...more
Kareena
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is phenomenal.Her prose is awesome.At first when I bought this novel it didn't really pique my interest,because I found the plot really uninteresting.But I gave it a chance solely because I have never read an African author's work before.And I was so wrong.

I loved all the characters.She really developed them well and none of them were just what you call "one-dimensional".They seemed so real that I could almost feel their presence,pain and happiness.

Great,great book.Must...more
Ebrahim Abdulla
في أحد الأيام ذكر لي صديق عن رواية محلية قرأها، استغرب وتعجب من ذكر كاتب الرواية لأماكن قريبة من مدينتنا نعرفها جيداً، موضع استغرابه كان : كيف يذكر هذه الأماكن في الرواية؟ إذ أن -كما يرى صديقي- الروايات لا يًذكر فيها إلا الغابات، والصحاري البعيدة، والشانزليزيه، وتحت ساعة بيج بن، والأماكن الخيالية، أما غيرها، فهي أماكن لم نعتد على رؤيتها في رواية . حضر في بالي حينها محاضرة أديتشي عن خطورة القصة الآحادية، التي تحدثت فيها عن الحكايا ذات البعد الواحد، حكايا الأوروبيين تحديداً، حيث أن الحسناء هي البي...more
Hannah
Apr 19, 2008 Hannah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who know a bit more about Nigerian/Biafran history and politics than me!
Recommended to Hannah by: Kate
I'm getting into a bad habit with not finishing books, but I found this book really challenging and it didn't interest me enough for it to be an enjoyable challenge; it was just a chore. I'm not familiar at all with African politics, and I don't think Adichie really had that sort of audience in mind when writing 'Half of a Yellow Sun' - again, perhaps if I had engaged with her characters on a more personal level, or found the narrative more interesting, then this would have been a great opportun...more
Cheryl
Narrated by three very different people, this is a tragic and heartfelt story of war, love, and post-colonialism, set during the time of the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967-70.

There is Olanna, the daughter of a diplomat and a professor who has just left Lagos to live in the smaller city of Nsukka with Odenigbo, the revolutionary and professor she has fallen in love with. Ugwu is their houseboy who has moved from the village to live and work with them. Richard, the European expatriate and writer, is...more
Sandhya
Jul 24, 2007 Sandhya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a heart-felt, informative read
The Biafran civil war, a terrible blot on Nigerian history and humanity, has not surprisingly, found voice in almost all major literary works produced in the country so far. Adichie was not born when the war happened but says that she grew up in its shadows and could never forget how she lost several of her family members to a situation, which was entirely man-made. This naturally, allows the author to recount incidents with unusual fervour, giving graphic images of the horrors that descended on...more
Jess Wisloski
Okay, so if I got to pick how I learn my world history of civilized cultures, I would pick to have this author, or a fair equivalent, write this kind of heartfelt bio of the defining struggles in their generation.

I bought this because I had heard this woman interviewed months before when it came out in hardcover. The interview intrigued me - the author spoke about how she was able to write from the perspective of a young boy (I think he is 12 when we start).
The book is really about the short-...more
Siria
Set in Nigeria in the 1960s, Half of a Yellow Sun tells the story of estranged twin sisters, Olanna and Kainene, as rising ethnic and nationalist tensions culminate in the Biafran secession and subsequent war. It's a fascinating and powerful book on many levels, detailing a conflict which the majority of people in the west are shamefully ignorant of; and yet I'm of two minds about it.

I liked the clarity of Adichie's prose, the intelligence and observation with which she writes, and was really f...more
Tania
The world was silent when we died
This was not an easy book to read. Once again I have to hang my head in shame and admit that I knew nothing about this part of history before reading Half of a Yellow Sun. What is tragic though is how similar the histories of many of the African countries are. I always say that I don't get scared by any fantasy or horror books about vampires or ghosts etc. The only books that really scare me are books about war, and especially wars in Africa. It always happens so...more
Lisa
WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU EVER WANT TO FIND ANOTHER BOOK SATISFYING.

Adichie makes enormous strides in her second novel. While her first displayed exceptional writing, this one incorporates a great deal more complexity in characters - both quality and the quantity, and conflict - political and domestic.

The novel is set during the Nigerian-Biafran wars in the 1960s. It begins during a time of relative peace and the reader gets to witness the call for revolution at the home of Odenigb...more
Jan-Maat
"There is no glory" said Ugwu.

Between the covers of this book a novel about the Biafran war and a novel about post colonial middle class life in south-eastern Nigeria awkwardly co-exist. That awkwardness prevents the novel from being great, pushing it down into the ranks of the very good instead.

The novel is split into four sections alternating between the early sixties and the later sixties. This I felt didn't really work. The earlier sections don't add much to the later and introduce problems...more
Julia Mukuddem
oh wow wow wow - what a book !! definitely a new favourite author !!

it is quite grim, and it was hard reading this, while i'm also reading 'winter of the world', so i need a lighter book now - but i'm so glad i read this book. she describes the characters so well. i usually don't see the faces of the characters when i read. the only other author who describes characters where i see their faces is ken follett. so to come close to ken follett, who is my favourite author, is an accomplishment. ;)...more
Suzanne
Half a Yellow Sun has shed a scorching light on "the dark continent of Africa. The 47or so countries, have always seemed to be 6 or in a particularly bad years, 9 countries. I just checked; it is second to Asia in size and population. Europe is much smaller in size and population, yet takes up most the American interest (except when it comes to diamonds and other raw materials).

I went to an affluent suburban high school from 1966-1970, the time when the novel is set and I never knew, until readi...more
Endah
Sumpah! Sebelum membaca novel ini, saya tidak tahu bahwa ada negara Biafra di peta dunia. Bahkan nama Biafra pun baru pertama kali ini saya dengar. Republik kecil ini terletak di sebelah tenggara Nigeria. Tetapi itu dahulu. Kalau Anda mencarinya di peta bumi sekarang, sampai lebaran monyet pun tak akan bakal Anda temukan tanah air orang-orang Igbo itu. Sebab, Republik Biafra hanya berumur 3 tahun saja (30 Mei 1967 – 15 Januari 1970). Kini, Biafra kembali ke sejarah asalnya, menjadi bagian dari R...more
Zen Cho
Excellent -- substantial and compulsively readable. The characters were like people! I felt I knew them by the end. And I liked how people did bad things and they -- and the people around them -- had to struggle to come to terms with those things; they weren't just smote by some plot twist reserved for evildoers. It felt real.

I feel like I should say more, but don't have anything useful to say! It was just really impressive. An enormously kind book, despite the brutality it portrays.
Mikey B.
Apr 02, 2014 Mikey B. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mikey B. by: Rowena
Shelves: fiction
Even at over 500 pages I found this to be a most readable novel of Africa set in Nigeria in the 1960’s when Biafra attempted to secede.

There are five main characters the author uses to narrate the story’s development. The “houseboy” Ugwu is the unifying centerpiece. There are two sisters – one, Olanna is a partner to a rather bombastic university professor (Odenigbo). And the other, Kainene is partnered to a (view spoiler)journalist who is from England. (view...more
Adam
I have now read 3 novels by the Nigerian author Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie. They are all very good, but "Half of a Yellow Sun" is truly excellent - the best so far. Although I have not read the original Russian novel, this book must rate as the Nigerian or Biafran "War and Peace".

By following the lives and loves of two twins and their 'partners' - one Nigerian and the other English - the author takes us on a fascinating and colourful trail through the years before, during, and after, the Biafran W...more
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500 Great Books B...: Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Samadrita 2 10 Aug 08, 2014 01:03PM  
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LITERARY HURRICANE: Half of a Yellow Sun 8 9 Jun 21, 2014 03:33PM  
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The Transatlantic...: Somewhat belated reactions 5 16 Mar 01, 2014 09:24AM  
The World's Liter...: Half A Yellow Sun. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 9 30 Oct 21, 2013 12:24AM  
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian-American author. Her best known novels are Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013).

She was born in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At nineteen, Chimamanda left for the U.S. to study communication at Drexel Un...more
More about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie...
Americanah Purple Hibiscus The Thing Around Your Neck We Should All Be Feminists Half of a Yellow Sun / Americanah / Purple Hibiscus: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Three-Book Collection

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“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?' Aunty Ifeka said. 'Your life belongs to you and you alone.” 301 likes
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