A Review of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie


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About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun. The book was published in 2006, in London by a publishing company known as 4th Estate. It tells the story of the Nigerian Civil War from the Igbo perspective, and the book won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007.


The main characters in the book are Ugwu who works as a houseboy from the village in Odenigbo’s house. Odenigbo is an educated man and a professor. Olanna is the beautiful wife of Odenigbo and the love of his life, Richard, is a foreigner — a westerner residing in Nsukka. He has Susan as his girlfriend but dates Olanna’s sister, Kainene.

The couple, Odenigbo and Olanna had some difficulty bearing a child. This leads to the visit of Mama from the village. They later have a child but then the war turbulence starts. This is followed by so many gory scenes and Ugwu’s forced entry into the army. His sexually perverted behavior attracts karma effect on his sister in the village. She gets gang-raped by warring soldiers. The sufferings of the war and his eventual regrets inspire him to write a book.


The author captures a historical event in Nigeria’s history, the Nigerian Civil War which was fought between 1967 and 1970. She approached it from a feminist and Igbo perspective.

Her choice of males as dominant characters was not a mistake. As a feminist, she believes that she was communicating to a society with a patriarchal mentality. Names like Odenigbo and Ugwu are known masculine Igbo names. It is also a tragedy that shows the horrors of wars and how it can make a society dysfunctional. Ugwu later became a perverted soldier killing innocent people and raping women. Something he would not have done, but for the war.

Although it bears the scenery of the 1960s, it is a reflection of how war can equally affect individuals even in today’s Nigeria. The novel makes a case for the Ibos, one of the main ethnic groups in Nigeria. Ibos were portrayed as victims of the war by the attack on those residing in Lagos State and other non-Eastern states at the time. They lost their properties.

Get a copy of Half of a Yellow Sun here.


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