What We´re Reading: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun is a beautiful novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is set during the Biafran war, an enormously significant chapter of Nigerian and African history which is too often forgotten, overlooked, or unremarked. Adichie explores it in great detail through her story of the intersecting lives of two sisters, their husbands/partners, a houseboy and the families and communities in which they live. It is a beautifully written novel, which took me into an era which as I said is critical to anyone interested in overstanding the history of post-colonial Africa (which should be you and everybody else). It was a rich, nuanced portrait of the chaotic, exciting, heady, hopeful, tragic time that was Nigeria (and Africa) in the decade(s) after independence.
While I was particularly conscious of the historical significance of the novel, having studied the Biafra/Nigerian Civil War conflict from a political and historic perspective, it is exactly that, a novel, so read it for its epic narrative, intricately and painstakingly imagined setting, and its intricately drawn, enigmatic characters.
It is a rich and welcome contribution to African literature. I am thankful that our generation is writing and reading our own treasured stories to join the likes of Achebe´s Things Fall Apart in thoughtfully and poignantly recording and exploring African experience through collective memory in literature.