Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Half of a Yellow Sun - a work of stunning depth

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi's second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun is a worthy winner of the Orange Prize for Literature. For a story that got off to a slow start initially, it really made me sit up and take notice by the end.

Adichie tells an incredible story of how the Nigerian government and population persecuted and massacred it's own people of the Igbo tribe in the late 1960's.

Told from the perspective of a handful of different characters, the tale follows their individual stories as their lives are torn apart. Their beliefs and values are pushed to breaking point as they struggle to stay alive in a country that doesn't want them and a world that doesn't want to acknowledge they exist.

The stark contrast between life before and after the Nigerian/Igbo civil war, which is beautifully portrayed by Adichie, really emphasises the sense that it is all some horrible nightmare which couldn't possibly be true except that loved ones keep disappearing and dying. For me, more than any other character the story of Ugwu the houseboy embodies this sense of unreality, the impossibility that this good man can do such bad things.
Do read it, and do bear with it. If you enjoyed Achmat Dangor's book Bitter Fruit you'll enjoy this.

Other Books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi;

Purple Hibiscus (2003) winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best first book in 2005 and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004

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