Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Half Of A Yellow Sun -- Kookiejar's Review

In 1966, Igbo soldiers tried to overthrow the Nigerian government. They failed and the Nigerians launched retaliatory strikes on Southeast Nigeria where the Igbo primarily live. For 3 years the newly formed republic of Biafra held its own, until famine and fighting decimated the population. In "Half of a Yellow Sun" (which refers to the flag of Biafra...see bottom of post), Adichie tells the story of the war through the experience of twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, their extended families, acquaintances and their servants.

I thought it was very interesting to see the way the war affected people of different colors (such as Richard, the white man in love with Kainene), economic position (like middle class professor, Odenigbo and the rich parents of Olanna and Kainene), and social class (as embodied by Odenigbo's houseboy, Ugwu).

Wendy mentioned in the comment section of an earlier post that there are many similarities between this novel and Uzodinma Iweala's "Beasts of No Nation" and I would agree. One ('Yellow Sun') focuses more on the war from the civilian point of view and 'Beasts' from the reluctant soldiers forced to act on their own people.

The first 60 or 70 pages are slow and at times I wondered if anything was actually going to
happen, but once the war starts it takes off like a rocket and becomes compulsively readable.

On a side note: Throughout the reading, I was brought again and again to the author photo on the back flap. Adichie is so young and fresh and pretty, her smile gave me a lot of hope, not only for her novel, but her country as well.

The flag of Biafra.

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