Half of a Yellow Sun – Review


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Nigeria.png

Fourth Estate (2009 – first published 2006), 448 pages

Charity Shop, €1

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Winner 2007

Half of a Yellow Sun is an extraordinary novel.  The book manages to explore the clash between different visions of society whilst still maintaining a fast-paced plot.  Adichie explores urban and rural divides, tribal and national clashes, pan-African nationalism and localism, colonial and post-colonial tensions, gender issues, and class conflicts.  Despite the depth of Adichie’s vision it never feels forced.  This is because she can see multiple sides to people.  Her characters are fully formed individuals not simply one-dimensional types created to promote an ideological point of view.  Some of her most sympathetic characters end up doing terrible things.  Adichie never justifies such acts but the horrific events that culminated in the doomed Biafran War make the reader question how they would act if their lives were torn apart by such brutal violence.

Misrule by elite sections of Nigerian society is a running theme in Half of a Yellow Sun.  From the oppression of British colonial rule, to the corruption of independent Nigeria’s rulers, the brutality of the Nigerian military during its 1966 coup and support of the murderous pogroms against the Igbo people, to the callousness of the Biafran military leadership in the final months of the war.  The dreams of a bright independent future were dashed by the desire for money, political control, and military power.

Related Links

History Ireland – The Forgotten War.  An Irish perspective on the Biafran War.



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