Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006
I found I had to read Half of a Yellow Sun slowly, savoring the characters and the language, and I’m not sure a review can do the book justice so I won’t even try. The novel shifts in time, the voices are brightly colored threads. It is a novel that tells a story to tell the truth. It is a story of two sisters.
Adichie has her characters lead us through the history of Nigeria during the 1960’s. My memories of that time hold images of starving children and refugee camps, but I had no real understanding of why Biafra’s people where suffering. I thought it had to do with drought, instead it had to do with politics. Half of a Yellow Sun tells of Biafra’s struggle for independence and the violence that followed, but it is never heavy-handed. I learned from the characters, as if sitting and listening to them talk about their daily lives, loves and struggles. This is a novel about the end of colonialism. It is a beautiful, sad, profoundly moving story about family, love, allegiances, class and race. I can not wait to read Adichie’s new collection of stories, The Thing Around Your Neck.
From an interview with the author:
I wrote this novel because I wanted to write about love and war, because I grew up in the shadow of Biafra, because I lost both grandfathers in the Nigeria-Biafra war, because I wanted to engage with my history in order to make sense of my present, many of the issues that led to the war remain unresolved in Nigeria today, because my father has tears in his eyes when he speaks of losing his father, because my mother still cannot speak at length about losing her father in a refugee camp, because the brutal bequests of colonialism make me angry, because the thought of the egos and indifference of men leading to the unnecessary deaths of men and women and children enrages me, because I don’t ever want to forget.