Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.3 93

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Overview

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.


BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307485779
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/12/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 43,468
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria, where she attended medical school for two years at the University of Nigeria before coming to the United States. A 2003 O. Henry Prize winner, Adichie was shortlisted for the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, and has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and the Iowa Review. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the Booker. She now divides her time between the U.S. and Nigeria.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Half of a Yellow Sun 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
LBanks More than 1 year ago
This book had me on the edge of my seat for much of the story. It's incredible and moving.
Staticman More than 1 year ago
This book hits home . Being a kid that went through the Nigeria / Biafra civil war, the narrations in this book brings back true memory of experiences of that civil war . Two words....... Well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Half of a yellow sun was an amazing book. It is an epic story with a great plot. The story takes place in Nigeria during the Biafran war. The writer uses themes such as loyalty and betrayal, and describes in-detail what each of the character's thoughts and feelings are. I enjoyed seeing how the characters progressed and changed throughout the story. I didn't know much about Nigeria before I read this story, but this story taught me a lot about Nigerian history. Since the author is Nigerian, she wrote the story very realistically, and explained the events that the characters went through as if they had actually happened. I would recommend this book for high school students or adults, because of some of the adult themes that are in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Half of a Yellow Sun was a good book, it took place during the Biafran War and it showed the hardships of moving from place to place because of war and that even high class people had to throw everything they had away and abandon their homes to reach safety. It also showed how people were in the military, and how people were enlisted from the streets and thrown into combat and they just had to deal with it and try not to die. Old and young, it did not matter. Overall I gave this book a 4, it was a good read but a lot of the content was drawn out and boring, where some content was exciting. There could have been a more equal amount of interest in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The blurb caught my attention and the fact that the story is on the Nigerian Civil war I was researching at the time made me go for this book. I am glad I did. This story of the poor Ugwu leaving the life he had known in his home village to work as a house help in Enugu, where he got trapped in the world of educated and refined people whose worlds and past mirror the complexities of Nigeria before, during and after the civil. The writing makes understanding the civil war a lot easier, and gives an insight of the various ethnicities (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani), especially the major ones, whose squabbling and shortsightedness plunged the land into so much misery that it is yet to fully recover from. The story spans four decades and tells a story of Nigeria that is exemplary. It comes with Disciples of Fortune, and Things Fall Apart as novels I enjoyed this summer. Stories that provide an insight into African life in this manner win my heart deeply.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Rich, Tragic, and Beautiful Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in Nigeria during the Nigeria/Biafa civil war. The narrative follows 3 characters: Ugwu, a village boy who is taken in by some politically-inclined academics as a house boy; Olanna, Ugwu's mistress and a rich heiress; and Richard, a British expat who desperately wants to be accepted by the Biafrans as one of them. The stories of these three characters are superbly and tragically woven together on a backdrop of war, racial hatred, and famine. This is one of the most impressive books I've read in quite a while. The characters were so deep that I felt I knew them. The events described had an eerie realism to them that comes from the author's intimate knowledge of the history and people. This is one of those books that makes you feel like every incident described is important and well-planned. This is a story not only of war, but of people--their dreams, their loves, their fears, their strengths and weaknesses. Half of a Yellow Sun is a must-read for anyone interested in international literature.
HuskerGrandma More than 1 year ago
This is a haunting book. It is beautiful in its love story; horrific in its brutality; poignant in its humanity. The writing is superb and the story catches your heart very quickly.
guyrn2 More than 1 year ago
I was hesitant to purchase this book because the story was based during the war. I was expecting a long boring description of the war but wow! it blew me away!I could not put this book down! Nothing was predictable! The reader was just as surprised as the characters in the book when a bomb exploded. Cleverly written! Great plot!
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
A wonderful novel based on events of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970. In May, 1967, after a widespread massacre of Igbos, the Igbos seceded to form the state of Biafra. This novel begins in the early sixties with three closely connected characters Ugwu, Olanna, and Richard and follows their lives and suffering, as well as the intense suffering of the Igbos, through the end of the civil war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible. Very engaging; i felt the joy, anger and hope of the characters. Best West African book i ever read. Learned a thing about the Biafran war in Nigeria. Wow... all these happened not so long ago and no one talks about it. I realized as i read the book, "pidgin english" was not spoken even by the illiterates.... This was not just a great story to enjoy but an educative one. I cannot even decipher the deeper meaning of this book in a half page of review.....
akemilydawn More than 1 year ago
We read this book for an MA-level fiction course, and afterwards I bought my sister a copy for personal reading. Adichie challenges, provokes, and touches her reader through very personal stories of five characters. Adichie lost both grandfathers in the Biafran revolution in Nigeria, and writes her novel to help us remember and to foreground human love. I never found myself bored, never willing to put the book down. I'm not a very "verbal" reader but found myself gasping aloud (much to my fiance's confusion). You will not regret this book, but prepare yourself for an intense experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Half of a Yellow Sun was a great book. It was filled with hope, love, death, and betrayal. It was emotional and hard to think of the things they all had to go through, with moving from home to home, to losing loved ones. Seeing each person's take on the war and how they were each affected by it was a clever idea by the author. It helped set the mood for each chapter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a full and good representation of the early history of Nigeria and of course what led to the rise and fall of the land of 'THE HALF OF A YELLOW SUN', outlining the challenges of a a young republic and the fight for liberation among its own people. Nothing could be more dramatic than the action that unfolds from the uniqueness of the well chosen characters. Not forgetting the Epilogues that follows the sections 'The World Was Silent When We Died'. Chimamanda simply lives beyond her time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After writing a critically acclaimed first novel, it is almost customary to write a dud as a follow-up. Only a few writers succeed in writing a novel better than their first novel Chimamanda Adichie is among the few. Every novelist has a unique story simmering in her (his) head, a story that she feels she must write. Arundhati Roy had ¿The God of Small Things¿, V. S. Naipaul had ¿A House for Mr. Biswas¿, and Chimamanda Adichie had ¿Half of a Yellow Sun¿. ¿This is a book I had to write,¿ Ms. Adichie has said. ¿I have been thinking about this book my whole life.¿ When a writer thinks of a story for years, and then sets out to write it with care and passion, the prose flows as heartfelt, and the novel shines. As a result, long after you finish reading this novel, you will feel your mind lit with the light of this powerful, frightening and also deeply moving novel. Written in simple but elegant prose, her style reminded me of the great Indian writer R. K. Narayan: ¿He looked up at the ceiling, so high up, so piercingly white. He closed his eyes and tried to reimagine this spacious room with the alien furniture, but he couldn't. He opened his eyes, overcome by a new wonder, and looked around to make sure it was all real. To think that he would sit on these sofas, polish this slippery-smooth floor, wash these gauzy curtains.¿ And like R. K. Narayan, who was well-known for his short stories, Chimamanda also has written short stories as well. (She has been compared with Chinua Achebe, but I haven¿t read any of Achebe¿s novels.) In Nigeria, in the late 1960s, there was a civil war between the Muslims in the north and Christians in the south, in the state of Biafra. Ethnic cleansing and massacre of Biafrans followed. As a result, Biafrans tried to secede from Nigeria. The half of a yellow sun refers to the emblem of the flag of the state of Biafra. Using this war as the background, the author has written a story involving five central characters: Ugwu, aged 13, who arrives at professor Odenigbo¿s house to work as a houseboy, and Olanna, a beautiful young woman who chooses to become Odenigbo¿s mistress, and Olanna¿s not so lovely twin sister Kainene, who is in love with Richard, an Englishman. Because other reviewers have narrated the story in brief, I do not feel the need to narrate it again. There are beautiful, subtly erotic passages, as well as graphic passages depicting sex and violence and blood-curdling brutality. I have no doubt that similar incidents, as depicted here, did indeed occur in Biafra. But you need to have an iron stomach to be able to read these passages without feeling sick and fearful. I wish to conclude on a cheerful note however, because I really admired this novel, and so here is a passage I wish to quote. Even though it is slightly erotic, I found it quite lovely: ¿But he liked going on errands to her house. They were opportunities to find her bent over, fanning the firewood or chopping ugu leaves for her mother's soup pot, or just sitting outside looking after her younger siblings, her wrapper hanging low enough for him to see the tops of her breasts.¿ This is truly an impressive and memorable novel. It¿s even more impressive and more accomplished than her critically acclaimed first novel, ¿Purple Hibiscus¿. And it is gripping and searing. But it¿s certainly not for the weak-hearted. Also, ¿Half of a Yellow Sun¿ is an apt title but the novel, however, is luminous like a full moon.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the late 1960s civil war devastates the Igbo people who formed the independent nation of Biafra having broken away from Nigeria. Thirteen year old peasant Ugwu has survived so far even being forcfully conscripted into the shabby Biafran army currently he works as a houseboy for Professor Odenigbo.-------------------- At the same time the lad endures life and death, a savage slaughter of the affluent leaves twin sisters Olanna and Kainene without any other family member left alive. Both choose similar paths to safety the only ones available to young orphaned females. Olanna becomes mistress to Professor Odenigbo, who loathes the Europeans for what their occupation has wrought to his homeland Kainene, on the other hands, selects British writer Richard, who is writing a book on the civil war impact on the Igbo, as her protector. Ugwu and Kainene form a relationship, but she becomes outraged when he spends a drunken night with her twin, putting all three at risk.---------------- Readers will feel and ¿see¿ the impact of war on the innocent in this superior historical novel. Using the Biafra civil war of the 1960s as the influence that directly impacts her three prime characters and to a lesser degree the two support players, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie paints a vivid condemnation of war in which peasants below the frey easily become collateral damage and survivability is everything. Readers (except VP Cheney, who would find a connection to 9/11) will appreciate this powerful look at real world surviving.------------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read this book a few years ago and still find myself thinking about it today. The "prequel" Purple Hibiscus was just as good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a grest book highlighting the plight of a nation and the ruthless war waged on innocent people while the northern powers sat and watched the slaughter
KarenEvans More than 1 year ago
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the incredible story of life in Nigeria during the Biafran War! The story is told through three main narrators: Olanna, Richard, and Ugwu. Olanna is a wealthy Igbo living with her boyfriend Odenigbo, an intellectual, who feels “Education is a priority! How can we resist exploitation if we don’t have the tools to understand exploitation?” He is very political and throws parties in which people from the university come to discuss literature and current events. Odenigbo is by far my favorite character! He has a houseboy Ugwu who is from a poor, rural village and is also one of the narrators. The minute that Ugwu moved in, Odenigbo was questioning him about his education and required him to start school immediately. He is stuck between two worlds really, as he left all his family behind in their village living in poverty. Finally, there is Richard who is in a relationship with Olanna’s twin sister. He is an English writer. The lives of these people are intertwined and the characters are very well developed. No one is flat. I deeply cared about all of them, some more than others. Everyone is very human and the way Chimamanda developed all the characters, switched perspectives constantly, and switched time periods constantly is incredible. Like I said this book was very well done! Not only are the characters incredibly strong in this novel, but I learned a bit about the Biafran War/Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and how quickly lives can change. As this book was historical fiction, you learn about the war through the eyes of the characters and it’s sometimes confusing to understand the whole situation when you are in the middle of it. I read a bit on the war after finishing this book, saw which side the US supported (even though they claimed to be neutral), and realized, even more than before, how horrible war is. There are good people on either side of a conflict and they get hurt, badly. The portions of this book describing war are horrible to read about and yet incredibly powerful.
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semcdwes More than 1 year ago
When Britain pulled out of their African colonies, they left behind them a host of problems that in many ways they had created. In Nigeria, they combined several tribes who lived along the Niger River into a single colony. Most populous among them were the Hausa in the north and the Igbo in the south. The British colonists had sewn discord among these people and stirred up enmity that boiled over in the 1960s with all out war. The Igbo people attempted to form their own nation, Biafra, but the world refused to acknowledge their fledgling new republic. In the face of this silence, Nigeria invaded, aided by Russian, British, and Egyptian bombers. While they tried to hold off the Nigerians, the people of Biafra starved. For three years war raged, while hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children died. <b>Half of a Yellow Sun</b> tells their story through the eyes of Odenigbo, an intellectual and revolutionary; Olanna, his lover; their houseboat Ugwu; Olanna's twin sister Kainene; and Richard, a British expatriate and journalist who stays to support the Biafran Republic.<br /> <br /> This was an absolutely incredible story of a dark time in world history. It is incredibly troubling to read this novel and know that the governments of all the world's powers just stood there and did nothing. Having been born ten years after the conclusion of this war I knew nothing of it. My only familiarity with the subject was the oft repeated refrain &quot;There are children starving in Africa&quot; to force to clear my plate of every bite of food. This is one of those books that I strongly believe should be taught in schools, while it is a fictionalized account of the events and the author admits to taking liberties with the historical events, it is something that everyone should know, so that we do not allow it to happen again. <br /> <br /> My only quibble with this book is that it is hard to connect with some of the characters. At the beginning especially I felt that the author wrote with a detachment that prevented me from fully engaging. Only once the war had begun in earnest did I really come to care, about the characters and what happened to them. Despite this, I know it is a book I will not soon forget and I feel better for having read.
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