Half of a Yellow Sun

Publisher: Vintage Canada
With her award-winning debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was heralded by the Washington Post Book World as the “21st century daughter” of Chinua Achebe. Now, in her masterly, haunting new novel, she recreates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria during the 1960s.

With the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Adichie weaves together the lives of five characters caught up in the extraordinary tumult of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Ugwu is houseboy to Odenigbo, a university professor who sends him to school, and in whose living room Ugwu hears voices full of revolutionary zeal. Odenigbo’s beautiful mistress, Olanna, a sociology teacher, is running away from her parents’ world of wealth and excess; Kainene, her urbane twin, is taking over their father’s business; and Kainene’s English lover, Richard, forms a bridge between their two worlds. As we follow these intertwined lives through a military coup, the Biafran secession and the subsequent war, Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise, and intimately, the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place.
Epic, ambitious and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a more powerful, dramatic and intensely emotional picture of modern Africa than any we have had before.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair. Ugwu's aunty said this in a low voice as they walked on the path. "But he is a good man," she added. "And as long as you work well,...
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READING GUIDE

1. Ugwu is only thirteen when he begins working as a houseboy for Odenigbo, but he is one of the most intelligent and observant characters in the novel. How well does Ugwu manage the transition from village life to the intellectual and privileged world of his employers? How does his presence throughout affect the reader...

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PRAISE FOR

A New York Times Notable Book
A Richard & Judy Book Club Selection
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Finalist for the commonwealth writers’ prize for best book (Africa region)


“A gorgeous, pitiless account of love, violence and betrayal during the Biafran war.”
Time

“A landmark novel, whose clear, undemonstrative prose can so precisely delineate nuance. . . . She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory.”
The Guardian (UK)

“At once historical and eerily current, Half of a Yellow Sun honours the memory of a war largely forgotten outside Nigeria, except as a synonym for famine. But although she uses history to gain leverage on the present, Adichie is a storyteller, not a crusader.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[Adichie’s] second novel leaves you reeling at the horrors people can inflict on one another. . . . The stark maturity of its vision is so startling that the great African novelist Chinua Achebe refused to believe the book could have been written by someone so young.”
National Post

“Adichie has created a jarring and achingly sensitive fiction. With powerful poetic prose unique in a writer so young, Half of a Yellow Sun is a moving novel that I would recommend to anyone brave enough to follow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie into the hell where her characters live, love and face unspeakable horrors.”
Hour (Montreal)

“…[an] artful page-turner…[a] profoundly gripping story. This dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well…This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing.”
Publishers Weekly

“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. Her experimentation with the dual mandate of English and Igbo in perennial discourse is a case in point. Timid and less competent writers would avoid the complication altogether, but Adichie embraces it because her story needs it. She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria's civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.”
–Chinua Achebe

Praise for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Purple Hibiscus:

“The secret of Adichie’s style is simplicity, rhythm and balance. She writes a poet’s sentences.”
London Review of Books

“A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state.”
–J. M. Coetzee