“Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future.”

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 430

Half of a Yellow Sun

Book Blurb:

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.

My Review:

I was introduced to Ms. Adiche when  Elena Truskova (from anotherindianwinter.tumblr.com) recommended her fantastic Tedx talk “We should all be feminists”. You can view the talk here.

And as usual, I googled her more and the more I read about her or saw her talks, the more impressed I was by her..so I went ahead and got myself one of her books “Half of a yellow Sun”.

The book is a historic fiction based on the Biafra war that happened in 1960.

The character development in the book is impeccable. I personally like to read characters that are complex and grey, and tend to be bored by the books where the characters are quite simple and can be easily classified in two categories: good people and bad people. I loved how each character was different, how each reacted to the same stimuli. The best character development happened in the five main characters: Ugwu, Olanna, Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard. Ugwu transformed from a small town illiterate boy to a soldier to an aspiring writer…Olanna, a london returned rich lady adjusts to a life in smaller town and then during the war adjusts in a room that she shares with four other people, Odenigbo, the professor, who held intellectual discussions every evening, takes up physical work and goes into massive depression…Kainene, the “ugly twin” and the businesswoman par excellence who lives life by her own terms and how the war affects her and her relationship with her twin Olanna and Richard, and Richard, the white guy who marries Kainene and views the war in his own unique perspective.

What is the most interesting thing about this book is that the war is shown in three different perspective:

a) from the locals view point

b) from the Outsider’s (White) perspective

c) from the perspective of a white guy living the war

It’s strange how one thing could mean so different to different people.

The book has great quotes like: “You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?’ Aunty Ifeka said. ‘Your life belongs to you and you alone.”

All in all, if you like action/romance/history, I highly recommend this book!

The book has been converted into a movie, here is the trailer for it: