For the review on my blog, go here.
I read Half of A Yellow Sun for my Reading Across Borders challenge. Travelling on from Austria, I hop across the Strait of Gibraltar, trekking across the Sahara to eventually arrive in Nigeria. I arrive in 1960's Nsukka, a small university town in the southeastern, largely Igbo region. Once there, I meet Odenigbo, a Nigerian professor; Olanna, his mistress who is from an elite Nigerian family; and Ugwu, a village boy that is employed as a houseboy in Odenigbo's home.
1960's Nigeria is one of turmoil. This epic story follows the plight of Odenigbo, Olanna, and Ugwu, as they are caught in the middle of the Biafran War. Following discrimination and massacres against Igbo in northern Nigeria, the south-eastern provinces of Nigeria seceeded to form their own nation of Biafra. What follows, both in history and this novel, is a brutal civil war in which hundreds of thousands lose their homes, are forced to flee numerous times, and ultimately face starvation and disease.
As Caribousmom has said, this is not a feel good novel. It is a novel about the realities of a post-colonial nation burdened by distinctions of class, race, and ethnicity. It is a novel about the horrors of war. It is a novel about death and destruction. That Chimamanda portrays such devestating topics with such depth, clarity, and compassion, is a sign of a masterpiece. And ultimately, in many ways, it is a story about love and survival.