Review # 7 (2012): Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun


Chimamanda Ngozi ADICHIE

541 pages

Published by Knopf in 2006

This book counts for the following challenges:




A friend of mine lent me her book last year, and it fit perfectly in my 52 countries Reading Challenge.

I had heard about Biafra in my younger years, but had no clear idea about all that was involved. This is a good historical novel, describing very well what was happening when Biafra tried to become independent, the violent reaction to their move and the huge suffering the population had to go through, with also famine at the same time.

I have lived several years with refugees from Africa and heard enough first hand horror stories of what they had to go through, so I’m always a bit hesitant in reading books on African wars these days. But this was done with style in this book and made it bearable for me. It also describes the political milieu and discussions around the issue of independence. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the past of Nigeria.


A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as “the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe,” Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates 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 weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel 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 promise 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. [goodreads]


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents.

Chimamanda 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 University in Philadelphia for two years, then went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

It is during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October 2003.

Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.



5 thoughts on “Review # 7 (2012): Half of a Yellow Sun

  1. This is one of my favourite books so I am very pleased that you enjoyed it too. I knew nothing about Biafra before reading it and found it heartbreaking.

    Have you read Purple Hibiscus? It’s not as good as this one but still very good indeed.


  2. I loved this book. It’s a tough read, but I consider it as one of the best historical novels I’ve read in some time. And I didn’t know much about the civil war–I recognized the name Biafra but didn’t know much more. I want to read her other novels and someone told me she has a new one coming out this spring. Good luck with your challenge. 52 countries this year–that’s great.


  3. Pingback: Six degrees of separation: from Lincoln to Alexandria | Words And Peace

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