A masterly, haunting novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as “the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe,” Half of a Yellow Sun recreates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria and the chilling violence that followed. Published in 2006, Half of A Yellow Sun garnered numerous accolades and was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.
With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade.
Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and they must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.
Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and about the ways in which love can complicate them all.
Half of a Yellow Sun is licensed for publication in 37 languages.
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (fiction category), 2007
PEN ‘Beyond Margins’ Award (now called PEN Open Book Awards), 2007
Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (now called Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction), 2007
Winner of the ‘Best of the Best’ of the second decade of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2015
"I was swept along...rarely have I felt so there, in the middle of all that suffering. I wasted the last fifty pages, reading them far too greedily and fast because I couldn't bear to let go. There are not many novels where war is seen mainly from the women's point of view, rather than that of the soldier, which makes this one double valuable...a magnificent second novel [which] can't fail to find the readership it deserves and demands."
"Vividly written, thrumming with life, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel. In its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture, this novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River."
"An immense achievement...Half of a Yellow Sun has a ramshackle freedom and exuberant ambition...No matter how dire the circumstances, censure is not Adichie’s thing. She leaves the judging to us...As well as freshly recreating this nightmarish chapter in her country's history, she writes about the slow process by which love, if strong enough, may overcome."
"A landmark novel, whose clear, undemonstrative prose can so precisely delineate nuance...Literary reflections on the Biafra war have a long and distinguished history...Adichie is part of a new generation revisiting the history that her parents survived. She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory."
"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. She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria's civil war. Adichie came almost fully made."
"At once historical and eerily current, Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in the forests of southeastern Nigeria 40 years ago, and honors the memory of a war largely forgotten. Adichie’s prose thrums with life. Like Nadine Gordimer, Adichie positions her characters at crossroads where public and private allegiances threaten to collide. Half of a Yellow Sun [has] an empathetic tone that never succumbs to simplifying impulses, heroic or demonic...Reaching deep, [it] speaks through history to our war-racked age not through abstract analogy but through the energy of vibrant detail, [and] a mastery of small things."