Odenigbo is a professor at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. His lives alone, with a 13 year old houseboy, Ugwu. Ugwu comes from a small village and is awed by the elite and intellectual visitors the professor receives. Eventually, the professor’s lover, Olanna moves in with them.
Olanna has an estranged twin sister, Kainene. But that sister comes back into Olana’s life again, with her boyfriend Richard. Richard is white, and he is British.
They live in the southern part of Nigeria. Nigeria, like most African countries is composed of tribals who were all brought together and their territorial borders redefined by the colonial powers. The colonials, encouraged differences and conflicts among the different ethnic groups, so that it would be easier to rule over them.
These differences result in a civil war in Nigeria after it becomes independent of colonial rule. The Southern Nigerian people try to secede and create a separate nation called Biafra. The Biafran flag depicts part of a sun, the Half Of A Yellow Sun of this book’s title.
The lives of the five main characters are caught up in the conflict. Olanna and Odenigbo, and Richard and Kainene are from affluent backgrounds. They live in and move around in elite circles. Odenigbo is part of the Biafran nationalist movement and often entertains people who support their cause in his house.
Ugwu is conscripted to the army and experiences a few horrors that leave a lasting impression on him. Meanwhile, the lives of the others are also drastically affected. They are forced to move into refugee camps, and their relationships and loyalties are tested by the changing circumstances.
The story is told in four parts. It switches in timelines, between the period leading up to the war and the period during the war. As the plot switches perspectives and times, the reader begins to gain an ever deeper understanding of the characters. They also gain an insight into the ethnic differences, the reasons that led to the conflict, and most of all, the devastation caused by the war.
Half Of A Yellow Sun is an intimate and intensely human portrayal of a destructive civil war that was just a news item to the rest of the world. Half Of A Yellow Sun has also been adapted into a movie.
About Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author.
Her other books are Purple Hibiscus, The Thing Around Your Neck, and Americanah.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in 1977 in Nigeria. She graduated with a degree from the Eastern Connecticut State University. She also earned a masters degree from Johns Hopkins University, in Creative Writing. In addition, she has a Master of Arts from Yale University, in African Studies. Her first published work was a collection of poems. Her novels and short stories have earned her many honors including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.