Half of A Yellow Sun

Half of A Yellow Sun

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A masterly, haunting new novel from a writer heralded by The Washington Post Book World as "the 21st-century daughter of Chinua Achebe," Half of a Yellow Sun re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor's beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna's twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race--and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781400044160
Branch Call Number: FIC ADI
Characteristics: p. cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 09, 2020

This book. Is A-mazing. Adichie is a brilliant writer. All of her books are excellent but this one in particular is SO absorbing and interesting.

Sep 14, 2020

Poetic, raw, heartbreaking -- a portrait of the struggle to define an identity and existence in a world splintered by the reality of violence in a fight for freedom.

Jun 29, 2020

Well that was educational. I had zero knowledge of the Nigerian civil war and the country of Biafra. I find it appalling how humans treat each other and then promptly forget to put it in our history textbooks. This book was very well written. Right from the beginning I was attached to the characters. It was hard to put this book down. Everytime their lives seemed to go right, something went wrong. I wanted them to all succeed.
This book is part of my attempt to purposefully read books by people of colour.

Dec 29, 2018

The setting for this novel takes place in post-colonial Nigeria - just before the Biafran civil war through to the end. Indeed, the title is from the Biafran symbol. The story is related in by a rotation of three viewpoints: a house boy (Ugwu) who is hired by socialist mathematics professor, a wealthy and beautiful woman - Olanna - who is the mistress of the professor, and Richard - an Englishman - who is devoted to Olanna's fraternal twin sister. The protagonists are all part of the Igbo minority tribe that form the backbone of the doomed Biafran rebellion. While the story, in general, is interesting the protagonists, except for Ugwu, are not all that interesting or appealing. Parts of the story are carried along with good description and pace while other parts simply drag and seem too larded with extraneous details.

Aug 05, 2018

Wow, what a great story with the creation and downfall of Biafra. Adiche tells the story of the creation and the violence of this time in Nigeria through love stories that make the reader feel they have been there. At times I wanted to put the book down, the violence was so horrendous. This history revolves around te tribal loyalties of Muslims and Christians. Of all the books I’ve read about Nigeria, this book is the most memorable.

Jul 27, 2018

This is a story, mainly told through the eyes of three people: Olanna, Richard and Ugwu, before and during the Nigerian Civil war in the late sixties. Biafra declared independence in 1967 and fought a losing battle until surrender in 1970 when they were forced to reunify with Nigeria. Many of us know nothing of Biafra except images of starving toddlers with swollen bellies. This books was enlightening both politically and about the people of Biafra. This is my 2nd book by Adichie after Americanah and both are among my most memorable, and best reads this year.

May 27, 2018

"[S]he felt attacked, relentless clobbered, by loss."

The story of two middle class Black Nigerian sisters, their loves and friends, the people who surround them, who suffer through the perils of the Biafran War, aka the Nigerian civil war. It starts with an ethnic cleansing; Biafra, a region of Nigeria, secedes to save its citizens. Nigeria, along with parts of Africa and sympathetic countries (including ex-colonial ruler England) wage a brutal war with Biafra, ostensibly to reunify Nigeria, but also to punish Biafra. The region's secession ultimately fails.

Using the lens of familial conflict to show the effect of national conflict was especially effective, even if other authors have used that tool in war dramas before. The strategy succeeds because Adichie is such a skilled author. Americanah, her most recent novel, is also a tremendously successful story. She has rapidly become one of my favorite authors, and she has opened my eyes to the literature of Africa.

Apr 07, 2018

This was second Adichie read. It was an emotionally tough novel to get through; however worthwhile to read as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes beautifully - agha ajoka (war is very ugly).

Mar 01, 2018

Nowadays, I am having a hard time reading novels: too slow, too long, too repetitive, too much sex.
"Half of a yellow sun" explores interesting topics: Nigerian civil war, colonial politics, etc. But I think it could be shorter. :)

Feb 12, 2018

Adichie does such a compelling job developing her characters and making them seem so real. Also a great insight into the Civil War in the 1960s in Nigeria that I knew nothing about.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
May 27, 2018

"[S]he felt attacked, relentless clobbered, by loss."

Library_Liz Dec 08, 2016

“The new Nigerian upper class is a collection of illiterates who read nothing and eat food they dislike at overpriced Lebanese restaurants and have social conversations around one subject: ‘How’s the new car behaving?’”

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.


Add Age Suitability
Library_Liz Dec 08, 2016

Library_Liz thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary
Blackjack_1 Jul 11, 2011

This profoundly gripping story takes place as the Igbo people try to form the independent nation of Biafra during the 1960s. Yes, you will read what you would expect to read when the word “Biafra” is mentioned: famine and war. But if you turned away before reading this amazing book, you would miss the story of Olanna and her sister, Kainene. You would miss learning about the cultures of eastern Africa from the poorest villagers to the wealthy landowners and the intellectual elite. This story transcends its setting by an author who lets you into the lives and relationships of the families and in so doing, you learn more about the human condition even in inhuman times. One of the most interesting characters is scarcely mentioned as the story begins – Ugwu, the 13-year old houseboy – but through his eyes you see how he rises from insignificance to one of the main characters. Everything in this story is believable and compelling; a real tour de force!


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

APL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top