Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who will be keynote speaker for the Remembering Biafra conference, is well known for her many novels and short stories, including her award-winning second novel published in 2006, Half of a Yellow Sun.

Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in the 1960s in Nigeria during the Biafran War. Adichie tells the story through the viewpoints of three different characters: Ugwu, a teenage boy from a rural village; Olanna, a young woman from a wealthy urban family; and Richard, an ex-patriot from England who falls in love with Olanna’s sister. All the main characters in the story are Igbo.

The story begins peacefully and serenely, with Olanna having fallen in love with a radical professor at the local university who rallies his friends, family and colleagues to support Biafran independence. People are enthusiastic about the declaration of separation and independence and are excited to begin living as Biafrans, rather than Nigerians.

However, as the story progresses so does the Biafran War. Because the primary characters are all Igbo, they live mostly in Southern Nigeria and generally do not trust people from the North. Yet as the war goes on, their initial zest and eagerness for independence wean slowly as the realities and devastation of war set in. Half of a Yellow Sun presents a unique perspective on the Biafran War, but it also takes the reader through the tumultuous ride of life that includes family ups and downs, struggles and losses and the inevitable process of falling in and out of love.

To learn more about the story or to read reviews of Half of a Yellow Sun, feel free to check out the following links:

A Biafran Story” (The New York Times)

The Master and his houseboy” (The Guardian)

Nigeria civil war seen from sharpened angles” (Los Angeles Times)

Abby Pioch is the primary blogger for Remembering Biafra. She is a senior in the Elliott School studying International Affairs concentrating in international development with a second major in French Language, Literature and Culture and a minor in Political Science. She is a member of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority and currently tutors ESL students at the Washington English Center.