Today, we will be reviewing Half of a Yellow Sun Book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is a fiction novel that covers the real-life civil war in Nigeria from 1967-1970. Adichie tells a haunting story that brings to light a war that many people have never even heard of. Keep reading for a short summary and to see if you should add this novel to your reading list!
Half of a Yellow Sun Summary
The setting of the novel is in Nigeria in the early and late 1960’s. It follows the three protagonists Ugwu, a 13-year old village boy who is hired by Odenigbo to work as his houseboy. Olanna is Odenigbo’s girlfriend and she movies in with him. Richard is an English writer who goes to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art. While there, he falls in love with Kainene, Olanna’s twin sister that looks nothing like her.
All of them carve out a life for themselves in Nigeria as life passes them by. During the later 1960’s, a civil war breaks out in Nigeria and all of them are caught up in it. Part of Nigeria secedes and forms Biafra and fight against the rest of Nigeria s they try to form their own country.
The lives of all five characters are upended as they try to help the war effort. Corruption and lack of food among other things are some of the things Biafra is suffering from. But patriotism is high and everyone is expected to play their part.
The civil war changes not only the lives of all the protagonists but the relationships they have with each other. Loss and suffering have brought them closer as well as divided them. How will the civil war end and who will be left to guide the future of the country?
Critical Reception and Commentary
The novel won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007 and Adichie received £30,000 as the prize. Critics loved the book and it made the New York Times‘s “100 Most Notable Books of the Year. In 2019, the Guardian ranked it the 10th best book since 2000. The novel was adapted into a movie of the same name in 2013.
Reading this novel was a fun experience as Adichie is a great storyteller. She makes us care about the lives of these strangers and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. I will admit, I had no idea what this book was about and the civil war caught be by surprise. It was a book recommended to me by a friend and I enjoyed Adichie’s book, Americanah.
As you can imagine, things take a drastic turn as the civil war takes center stage. There are a lot of heavy stuff and it does not hold back. War is ugly and cruel and that is what follows. Not knowing anything about this conflict made me wonder how the conflict comes to an end.
This is a powerful novel and it is rightfully placed by Guardian as one of the best novels since 2000. The writing is effortless and it raises awareness on a civil war that affected millions of people yet is never mentioned. There are some novels that you are glad you read and this is one of those novels for me. Happy reading!