Gregory Mose's Reviews > Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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's review
Nov 25, 2009

it was amazing
Read in November, 2009

I almost wish I had another star to give this one. Set in Nigerian in the 1960's, the book focusses on the lives of five very different people against the backdrop the the Biafra conflict. You don't need to know much of Nigerian history to enjoy this book - the focus is not on a specific war, or even on war in general, but rather on the lives and emotional conflicts of the characters. Adichie's writing ranks with the best, and in its unpretentious elegance blows away many of our own overly lauded literary luminaries. I wish more contemporary American writers would read this book and learn something from it. Clear and vidid prose, complex characters and an interesting and tangible storyline beat recondite vocabulary, quasi-intellectual supernaturalism and a distracting clutter of pop-cultural references any day. This is how a novel should look.
My only real quibble is with the character of Richard, an Englishman who marries an Igbo woman and takes part in the Biafran cause. I'm glad Adichie included him, but is is clumsy and two-dimensional when compared with the other characters, and one can feel that he is there more for political motives than literary ones. Otherwise an amazing read. I was sorry when it was over.

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