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Half of a Yellow Sun Paperback – 15 Jan 2007

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Half of a Yellow Sun + Purple Hibiscus (P.S.) + The Thing Around Your Neck
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (15 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007200285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007200283
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (451 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. Her first novel 'Purple Hibiscus' was published in 2003 and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her second novel 'Half of a Yellow Sun' won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review. She won a MacArthur 'genius' grant in 2009, and in 2010 appeared on the New Yorker's list of the best 20 writers under 40.

Product Description

Review

'Vividly written, thrumming with life…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”.' Joyce Carol Oates

'Here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.’ Chinua Achebe

'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.' Edmund White

'Absolutely awesome. One of the best books I've ever read.' Judy Finnigan

'[Deserves] a place alongside such works as Pat Barker's “Regeneration” trilogy and Helen Dunmore's depiction of the Leningrad blockade, “The Siege”.' Guardian

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. Her first novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was published in 2003 and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her second novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her short story collection, ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, was published to critical acclaim in 2009. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review. She won a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 2009, and in 2010 appeared on the New Yorker’s list of the best 20 writers under 40. Her third novel, ‘Americanah’, was published to widespread critical acclaim in 2013. She lives in Nigeria.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 176 people found the following review helpful By A. Stephens on 25 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
`Half of A Yellow Sun' confirms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as one of my favourite authors. Following up a very successful first novel is always difficult but this is exceptional writing.

While tackling a difficult subject, the lead up to and the course of Nigeria's Biafra War in the 1960's, it is told in a very readable and accessible way. The events unfold through the eyes of three central characters who are swept along in the chaos of civil war. There is Ugwu, the houseboy of a university lecturer; Olanna, the lecturer's partner; and Richard, an English journalist who lives with Olanna's twin sister. They are forced together and separated in unexpected ways throughout the war, each witnessing events that affect them deeply.

Interwoven in the main plot are other important themes, the necessity (for the innocent people displaced by war) and ineffectiveness (through corruption and misappropriation) of emergency relief aid; the use of child soldiers and horrors they are forced to endure; how the West perceives Africa (a good example being the situation when two American reporters are more interested in the death of one white journalist than one thousand local, black civilians); how religion, tribal loyalties and the political elite can tear a country apart; and how many of these factors can be traced back to the impact that colonialism had on the country. There are significant lessons that can be drawn from this novel, particularly with regards to how the world is dealing with the current crisis in Darfur, for example.

The structure of the novel worked well, creating intrigue and suspense throughout. It was gripping from start to finish but the tension that built in the final section meant it had to be read in one session - there was no way it could be put down.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gitau Githinji on 8 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Half of a Yellow Sun is an excellent read. Easily my favourite novel this or last year.

Chimamanda has a gift for human observation. Her descriptive style is compelling and the characters sometimes cleverly invite you into their worlds. One often has to remind oneself that the author, being as young as she is, cannot have lived to see as much of life as her work represents.

I understood Odenigbo and Olanna perfectly but found Ugwu a little contrived. This is not to say he is not likeable: Ugwu is, without a doubt, the central character in this rich dramatis personae. He makes you laugh and cry far more than anybody else. Still, it is difficult to believe that an African houseboy - in a continent where labour is cheap and expendable - can occupy such a central part in the life of a family while growing up with little regard for his own future. Richard was the least believable of all. He was, for me, a cartoon character. A shallow Englishman suddenly finding himself a journalist deeply wrapped up in a war which has nothing to do with him takes a greater leap of the imagination than I was capable of making. I liked the detachment of Kainene and the supreme confidence of Madu.

The pages describing the war are clearly where the author had to do the most work. It is difficult to tell that she did not live through the war herself. A novel about a forgotten war written by an authentic Igbo is exactly what was needed - not another paternalistic travelogue/history book from yet another European "discovering" themselves and their writing skills in Africa's turbulent history. Brilliant.

You cannot read this book slowly - it is far too fast-paced for that. I will be looking out for more of Chimamanda's work; she has a superb future ahead of her.

A delightful surprise awaits you at the end. Lovely twist!
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By missp85 on 10 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover
After Purple Hibiscus, I was not in a hurry to read the next offering from Chimamanda. The first novel, praised by critics, other authors and many of the other reviewers on this page, left me feeling very dissatisfied. I found it unecessarily slow and was of the opinion that the author fell into the "ethnic" trap that is the downfall of many young African writers.

Half of a Yellow Sun was simply fantastic. It was (and forgive the cheese), a JOY to read. I have tried, and failed, to read many a book on the Nigerian Civil War. Its a part of my country's history that I feel is poorly documented and is glossed over by many Nigerians, the bulk of whom understandably still bear very painful memories of its brutality and futility.

Chimamanda's novel is so fantastic because her characters are astoundingly real. I read it at lightening speed whilst managing to savour every scene and twist in my mind, to the extent that I can still recall every event in the book and am anxiously waiting for my friends and family to read it, as I am desperate to discuss it with others who can, and will, appreciate its genius.

I saw every scene, heard every sound and felt every emotion as the story unfolded before me. I was consumed by this novel, by its fascinating plot and personalities, and by the vast array of themes it encompassed: The relationships between Olanna and Odenigbo; Olanna and Kainene; Kainene and Richard; Odenigbo and his group of intellectuals, Ugwu's loyalty and his later dabble with base brutality, the ease with which life was lived before the war, the fear, panic and inhumane responses that ensued amongst both the rich and the poor, the wartime propaganda, the inaction of the international community and the sheer surrealness of it all.
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