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Half of a Yellow Sun: The Women’s Prize for Fiction’s ‘Winner of Winners’ Paperback – 11 July 2007
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- Publisher : 4th Estate GB (11 July 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007200285
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 19,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
'Vividly written, thrumming with life…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”.' Joyce Carol Oates
'Here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.’ Chinua Achebe
'I look with awe and envy at this young woman from Africa who is recording the history of her country. She is fortunate – and we, her readers, are even luckier.' Edmund White
'Absolutely awesome. One of the best books I've ever read.' Judy Finnigan
'[Deserves] a place alongside such works as Pat Barker's “Regeneration” trilogy and Helen Dunmore's depiction of the Leningrad blockade, “The Siege”.' Guardian
The Women’s Prize for Fiction’s ‘Winner of Winners’
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My knowledge of the Biafran famine and preceding war came from childhood awareness, then came Feed the World and Ethiopia in my teens. This powerful and wonderfully written story gave me greater and sympathetic awareness of the horrors. Though I know you cannot read one fictional account about such a traumatic subject and say you’ve a full and rounded understanding. No matter how engrossing.
I gave it four stars instead of five, because as a piece of fiction it left me low, then again it's a hard subject.
There are times when this got too soapy for my tastes and the result is a kind of historically-lite tale that presses an awful lot of standard fictional buttons.
I guess I wanted more in-depth politics: the lead up to the secession of Biafra is quite powerfully done - but then suddenly it just exists and is at war and things get vague - we learn, for example, that there are Biafran car number-plates, a separate currency but no sense of any of these markers of a new state being established. And I wanted to understand more about the role of oil which, we learn, Biafra is still extracting and refining under the bombing of the Nigerian forces. Even the famous famine doesn't feel as visceral as it should as there's so much else going on - not least the enforced conscription of a main character at about 80% into the book.
Even Adichie's writing style seems to become more panoramic: at the start, it's vivid and immediate with very little exposition, and character being expressed via what people do and say. As the story proceeds, it becomes a bit more 'told' - though I like the fact that there is no omniscient narrator and we have a sense of contingency and reaction.
Overall, this is undoubtedly both ambitious and also a personally important topic for Adichie herself - I liked it but just didn't love it as much as I wanted.
I knew very little of the events that led to this war before reading the book, and I feel like this work of fiction brought so much life to an obviously very tumultuous and disturbing period in (what is now) Nigeria's history.
Ugwu is an excellent character, and my favourite chapters were the one told through his eyes. Some other characters were not so likeable however, and I found myself frustrated with several of them as the story progressed.
However, this story is undoubtably a moving one. The characters are wonderfully used to demonstrate how far the repercussions of war can spread, and to devastating effect.