TBR: Half of a Yellow Sun

Today’s book is Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Adichie.  As I said last week, it’s excellent but depressing.  It’s a novel set during Biafra’s short lived independence from Nigeria, showing how the members of one family are affected as the country is afflicted by war and starvation.

I have to admit that when I picked up the book (after reading the rave review in the Washington Post), I had only the vaguest idea where Biafra was.  I knew it was in Africa, and knew that the name was associated with pictures of starving children.  I had some idea that it was one of the first places where widespread starvation became a media event.  (And I had heard of Jello Biafra.)

As I said to Phantom Scribbler, the book is sad, even horrifying, but not at all graphic in showing the violence.  Terrible things happen to many people, but almost entirely "off-stage" (as in a classic tragedy).  Adichie focuses in on the details of life, especially food — in the good years, she portrays the servant who won’t eat his family’s plain boiled yams after getting used to eating them with butter; in the bad years, she shows lizards and crickets becoming delicacies.  In describing a child suffering from malnutrition, she shows her dark hair becoming rust colored and falling out in clumps, rather than the standard images of ribs sticking out or bellies protruding.

With the reviews that Adichie is getting, she doesn’t need my recommendation.  But she’s got it.  I’m going to look for her first book — which is supposedly less dark — in the library.

3 Responses to “TBR: Half of a Yellow Sun”

  1. Phantom Scribbler Says:

    All right, you’ve convinced me. I’ll put it on my list.

  2. Melissa Says:

    A fellow DCer delurking to say that _Purple Hibiscus_, her first novel, may be less horrifying then her second but I found it a difficult read. Kambili, the protagonist, tells her story in such a sad, matter-of-fact way that your heart can’t help but break a little.
    Still, an excellent read.

  3. Miriam Appleton Says:


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