My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After all the hype and noise Half Of A Yellow Sun has been able to garner, it felt suffice to read the book that has been able to aptly capture and describe one of the important part of Nigerian history-The Biafaran War fictionally.
As a Nigerian, this was my first introduction to the Biafaran war and Eastern Nigeria in general and I’m glad to say that she did justice to it. Well, according to Adiche, the characters are non-fictional but their portrayals were fictitious and so I was able to relate and connect to them to a certain level. She brought life to them so much that throughout the whole period of reading, I found myself going in and out of two different worlds. Her thorough research and first-hand accounts went a long way in adding a particular aura to the novel.
Fantastic storytelling, impressive detailing with a keen eye to descriptions even though African Writers are known to go overboard sometimes with their descriptions but in this case, she is forgiven. It was absolutely necessary.
The narratives were so graphic that it evoked some emotions and once again, I felt some sort of connection to it. It didn’t help so much that the movie is out. I found myself on several occasions ”watching” the movie through the book with Chiwetal Ejiofor and Thandie Newton as Odenigbo and Olanna respectively so it was easy to glide through without any hitch.
I particularly loved the way the beginning was fast-paced. There wasn’t any form of stalling in between the chapters but I felt she could have ended it in a better way even though it’s still suitable notwithstanding which signifies some sort of continuity, at least, for me. I felt like the novel didn’t just end in chapter 37, it continues even till date and that for me is remarkable. And then, the time frame, the various divisions, it’s nice to know it wasn’t particularly in a chronologically manner but the plot was understandable.
Some people find her use of language and incessant emphasis on sex a bit controversial, I did too after for some time but after a while I realised that it was all part of the plot. It sort of served as a reality check and I couldn’t agree more. She took liberty into her hands and explored. Africans generally and Nigerians in particular are not exactly the kind to flaunt their sexuality/sexual preferences and so when a writer like Adiche takes the liberty to do step out of the norm brazenly, they tag it offensive. Agreed it went a bit overboard but it was necessary to make the novel believable to an extent.
Overall, it was an amazing and interesting ride. I need to read other versions of the war from other authors to make an effective comparison that why I gave it a four out of five stars.
Once again Chimamada Ngozi Adiche did not disappoint and the hype is well-deserved. A must read!