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Half of a Yellow Sun [Paperback]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Jan 2007

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 horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.

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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; 1st Harper Perennial Edition edition (15 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007200285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007200283
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247 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.

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'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’ (2003), was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2007), won the 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 and has appeared in various literary publications, including ‘Granta’, ‘Zoetrope’ and ‘The Iowa Review’. She lives in Nigeria.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
155 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping plot, powerful themes, excellent... 25 Sep 2006
`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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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By missp85
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ties That Bind . . . in Peace and War 7 May 2007
Highly recommended!

Strip away the thin veneer of civilization, and history teaches that you can quickly fall into savagery. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie disagrees with that conclusion. She sees elemental nobility in people that overcomes for most even the most trying conditions. As a result, Half of a Yellow Sun is a very hopeful work, despite recounting the horrors of the Biafran attempt to separate from Nigeria in 1967-70. She also realizes that even the best people will slip up . . . and deserve forgiveness when they do if they repent.

However, betray someone at a personal level . . . and that's much harder to take than mere life-threatening and degrading challenges. The contrast between surviving external conditions and personal betrayal is deftly and powerfully made in this kaleidoscope of how world politics, colonial policies, religious differences, tribal influences, geographical prejudices, racism, economic class consciousness, business activities, family connections, friendships, sexual desire, obligations, and personal favors interplay.

At the center of the story is one household at rural Nsukka University comprised of the socialist-leaning professor Odenigbo, his beautiful mistress Olanna, daughter of Chief Ozobia, and their houseboy, Ugwu. The plot also heavily involves Olanna's fraternal twin sister, Kainene, who runs the family business interests and her lover, the ineffectual English writer, Richard Churchill. Intellectuals from Odenigbo's university circles also stand-in as surrogates for various attitudes in society. In fact, each character is clearly symbolic of one part of the story or the other. Follow their fates, and you get a good sense of the author's ideas of what happened to the overall social fabric.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for everybody who would like to widen their knowledge...
An amazing story provisfibg insight and knowledge about an area of history u knew nothing about! So much lice and suffering - very well written and highly mesmerising !
Published 2 days ago by MoMaBa
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book ... nothing else to say
I loved this book. Fantastic novel with a truly informative slant. About the Nigerian Biafan war about which I suspect many of us know little. No praise too high.
Published 5 days ago by Mrs KJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This book is awesome, I understand the reason why Its talked about oh so much. I would recommend this book to other people to read, its awesome, and I love it.
Published 8 days ago by Abisola
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book
The story of the difficult relationship between twin sisters during Biafra's fight for independence. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Yssie
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
a book that made me aware of a part of history I had no idea about, and the characters portray war from many different perspectives. Well worth reading
Published 11 days ago by amanda
5.0 out of 5 stars Came Recommended
I bought this book for a present so I can't comment on the content other than it came highly recommended. Read more
Published 14 days ago by pHazeD
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I personally enjoyed reading this book it was for my course and it has restored my interest in reading books. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Raymond
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!!
Absolutley fantastic. Different writing, I could not put it down!! I presume it was very true to life at the time
Published 1 month ago by simon goodwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
really makes you think.
a brilliant book that transports you to another point in time, I could almost believe I was there. A sad but to some point true story.
Published 1 month ago by Nikkia
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring... BORING BORING!!!!!
Thank goodness I only paid 99p, one reviewer states its unputdownable... WRONG its unpickupable. I struggled through this tome most of the time scan reading it, I thought that... Read more
Published 1 month ago by mrsd
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