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Half of a Yellow Sun

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  38,932 Ratings  ·  3,936 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 541 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Anchor (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 15, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
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
Apr 23, 2009 Milan/zzz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awarded, africa
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
Nandakishore Varma
Jan 10, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nandakishore by: Start typing for auto-complete
"The world was silent when we died."

This casual statement he once heard is used as the title of a book written by one of the characters in this novel, in which Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie chronicles the birth, short and tortured life and death of the State of Biafra: born on the 30th of May, 1967 from Nigeria and forcefully annexed back by the parent state, after a bitter war in which a million died, in January 1970.

Most of us, I suspect, do not know about this short-lived country. Even Wikipedia c
...more
Megha
Jun 15, 2012 Megha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Sep 03, 2013 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cftc
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
Philip
Sep 19, 2008 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie
When Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960, it stood to be one of the most prosperous, productive, and influential nations on the continent. Rich with natural resources, including vast reserves of oil, it possessed an educated middle class and a cultural life that blended multiple ethnic groups, languages and religions in a vast and vibrant collective.

Like many African nations colonized by Europeans, its borders had been drawn with little regard for political and cultural realiti
...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
Tony
Mar 15, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nigerian
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
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
Zanna
War cuts across class, gender, race. The privileged Igbo woman. The Igbo houseboy from the village. The white Englishman in love with Igbo art. Three voices for this story, three hearts cut by the grief of a war from which are all somewhat protected: Olanna by her familiy's wealth, Ugwu by the status and resources of his employers, and Richard by his whiteness and foreign-ness. Yet their passions, their attachments, not least for Biafra itself, leave them exposed, vulnerable to the wounds they c ...more
B the BookAddict
May 13, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Heather for Recommendation Swap
Shelves: fiction, rec-swap

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
Sally Howes
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is a very important and very readable postcolonial novel. Centering on the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967-70, it has a lot to teach both about postcolonial Nigeria and about the art and import of storytelling.

Language is a central concern in this book, including the occasional tongue-in-cheek play on words, such as Richard being (emotionally) "stirred" by a ropework pot. I got the sense that the author was almost deliberately deceptive in the simplicity of her language, covering
...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
Ahmed
Sep 22, 2015 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
إذا فهذه إفريقيا (التى ننتمي إليها إسما فقط) , هى إفريقيا التى نادراً ما تقابلها أو تشاهدها أو حتى تسمع عنها .

إفريقيا الساحرة , حقا إنها لساحرة , فهى المجتمع الغامض , الجامع لشتى الحضارات والثقافات والثروات الغنية فى خليط ممتع, ولسؤال الأهم , هل يستطيع عمل أدبى ما فى تقديم ذلك السحر ؟ هذا ما ستقابله فى هذا العمل الفريد.

ببساطة : نيجيريا الستينات , بطائفيتها القبيحة المدمرة السافكة للدماء .
رواية واقعية (حقيقية) ليس فقط الانتماء لفن الواقعية كنوع روائى ما , بل هى الواقعية الحية التى تضعك فى قلب ال
...more
Malia
Jan 06, 2016 Malia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2015
After reading "Americanah" earlier this year, I finally picked up Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Half of a Yellow Sun".
I had heard so many great reviews, I was worried it wouldn't live up to my high expectations, but I am very happy to report that it has. "Half a Yellow Sun" tells the stories of a cast of intriguing, flawed and very real characters around the years of the Biafran War. I have to admit, this conflict was, shockingly, not one I knew much about. It was not mentioned in my history clas
...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
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
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
Skip
Dec 06, 2014 Skip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, e-books
Fundamentally, this novel is a classic historical narrative of political conflict, with all of the emotions that underlie the human condition, ranging from war to love and hate to betrayal, oppression and transcendence. The background is the civil war, which occurred in Nigeria in the late 1960s, recalling the Igbos' vibrant engagement with Nigeria and the subsequent horrific violence that followed: the military intervention in tribal/racial politics, which lead to ethnic cleansing, the massacre ...more
Sandhya
Jul 24, 2007 Sandhya rated it really liked it  ·  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
Hannah Young
Apr 19, 2008 Hannah Young rated it it was ok  ·  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
Andrea
I haven't read much African literature, but perhaps if I'd been introduced to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sooner, that might not be the case.

Set in 1960s Nigeria, ethnic tensions and colonial influences lead to two major coups, the secession of Biafra and subsequent civil war. Throughout this period we follow the lives of privileged Igbo twin sisters, Olanna and Kainene, their partners Odenigbo and Richard, and Odenigbo's houseboy, Ugwu. My favourite characters were Ugwu and Olanna, who were the he
...more
Ebrahim Abdulla
May 20, 2013 Ebrahim Abdulla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
Jan 03, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry, but I absolutely have to quote this poem from the novel, even if it's long:

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 was kwashiorkor—difficult word,
A word that was not quite ugly enough, a sin.

You needn’t imagine. There were photos
Displa
...more
Gary  the Bookworm
Apr 22, 2015 Gary the Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-wine-club
I started watching the TV dramatization of Wolf Hall, the often told, but perennially fresh, tale of King Henry VIII and his harem of queens, told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a brilliant strategist who was born a commoner. He understood that his influence and survival depended on an elasticity of conscience. He was the embodiment of moral relativism. At the same time I started to read, Half of a Yellow Sun, by this Nigerian author. It tells the story of the Biafran War for independ ...more
Rahat  Asif
Looking at everyone else's rating of this book I feel the odd one out giving it 3 stars only. The only reason I am not rating it a four star novel is because it was too long for me.

This book is a story about five people who are the victims of the Biafran- Nigeria War. The novel covers the entire war. It's a very well researched book and the way the author has described the emotions and different situations that these characters go through is very real. Her writing made me feel for these charact
...more
Chris Blocker
Sep 17, 2015 Chris Blocker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-2013
“If intentions were horses...” Wait, what's the proverb?

I've had intentions of reading Half of a Yellow Sun since I first noticed it in 2008. It has been sitting patiently at the top of my to-read pile for years. I'm not sure why it took this long, but it did. Finally, I can say I've read it and, not surprisingly, I enjoyed it greatly.

This is such an evocative and poetic novel. The language, the story, the characters, the setting—this is nearly a perfect novel. I was truly engaged and greatly in
...more
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian 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 Universit
...more
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