Half of a Yellow Sun Hardcover – Deckle Edge, 12 September 2006
Hardcover, Deckle Edge
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- Publisher : Knopf (12 September 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400044162
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400044160
- Item Weight : 835 g
- Dimensions : 16.76 x 3.48 x 24.13 cm
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1. I found the book’s plot repetitive and felt that it didn’t develop as time passed and pages piled up.
2. The language felt insipid and having read Adichie’s non fiction as well as her debut novel in the past, I know the potency of her writing and what she can otherwise deliver through it.
3. I felt that the characters were not sketched fully. Although the book is set during the time of the Biafran wars and envelopes both pre and post war era, the characters seemed unchanged and unaffected by the circumstances around them. It felt like they were removed from their immediate environment and functioned in an exterior, *fictional* world. In fact I’d go as far as to say that the characters felt all too mechanical to my reader eyes.
This book has put me in a slump of sorts and I am having trouble sticking to a book.
The story of Half of a Yellow Sun is set in the backdrop of Nigerian Civil War that took place between 1967 to 1970. Nigerian Civil War broke out due to political and ethnic struggles, partly caused by the numerous attempts of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria to secede and form the Republic of Biafra. In the book, the effect of the war is shown through the dynamic relationships of five people’s lives including twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British citizen, and a houseboy.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie narrates the story through three main characters, i.e., one of the twins, the house boy, and the British fellow. The lives of these three characters are swept up in the turbulence of a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.
With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has woven together a story about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race, and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promises and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.
The writer has portrayed the havoc wrecked by the war so blatantly that it haunts you for few days. It will leave a thought in your mind as to what would you do in such a situation and on second thought, you would shudder and be grateful to God for keeping you in safer conditions. Some scenes in the book reminded me of the situation in India after the partition. The bloodshed, the gory violence, the desperateness that people faced during that period.
After reading two of the author's books, I can vouch that Chimamanda is an extraordinary story teller with a brilliant insight and acumen.
The book was also adapted into a movie in 2013
At times I even found myself attached to a cause I had no exposure to until a week ago purely because the story is told to simply that it makes you fear of tragedy that could happen to anyone in the middle of ordinary circumstances.
It also shines light on a few topics that take a necessary diss at Western media and it's domination on reporting issues that are selectively picked and portrayed in a specific tone for it's "presumably" western audience. Ofcourse it is evident in the way western media focuses on issues close to home and dismisses the seriousness of others, trivialising them as recurring tragedies of less little global significance. Fortunately I found this book at a time when I myself was in the middle of deciding what it is that must be done about this bias in global media dominated by UK and USA.
But the book itself is a wonderful read, painful but wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone looking for fiction with "emotional truth" as the author puts it, if I am not wrong in the quotation.
Top reviews from other countries
There are times when this got too soapy for my tastes and the result is a kind of historically-lite tale that presses an awful lot of standard fictional buttons.
I guess I wanted more in-depth politics: the lead up to the secession of Biafra is quite powerfully done - but then suddenly it just exists and is at war and things get vague - we learn, for example, that there are Biafran car number-plates, a separate currency but no sense of any of these markers of a new state being established. And I wanted to understand more about the role of oil which, we learn, Biafra is still extracting and refining under the bombing of the Nigerian forces. Even the famous famine doesn't feel as visceral as it should as there's so much else going on - not least the enforced conscription of a main character at about 80% into the book.
Even Adichie's writing style seems to become more panoramic: at the start, it's vivid and immediate with very little exposition, and character being expressed via what people do and say. As the story proceeds, it becomes a bit more 'told' - though I like the fact that there is no omniscient narrator and we have a sense of contingency and reaction.
Overall, this is undoubtedly both ambitious and also a personally important topic for Adichie herself - I liked it but just didn't love it as much as I wanted.
My knowledge of the Biafran famine and preceding war came from childhood awareness, then came Feed the World and Ethiopia in my teens. This powerful and wonderfully written story gave me greater and sympathetic awareness of the horrors. Though I know you cannot read one fictional account about such a traumatic subject and say you’ve a full and rounded understanding. No matter how engrossing.
I gave it four stars instead of five, because as a piece of fiction it left me low, then again it's a hard subject.