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Authors: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun

BOOK: Half of a Yellow Sun

Praise for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s

Half of a Yellow Sun
New York Times
Notable Book
Globe and Mail
Best Book
A Richard and Judy Book Club Pick

“The stark maturity of
Half of a Yellow Sun’s
vision is so startling.… Adichie writes in a stately, almost grandiloquent manner … and relies on the potency of her story rather than flashy phrase-making to sustain the interest of her readers.… The characters burrow into your marrow and mind, and you come to care for them deeply.”

National Post

“At once historical and eerily current,
Half of a Yellow Sun
honors the memory of a war largely forgotten outside Nigeria, except as a synonym for famine. But although she uses history to gain leverage on the present, Adichie is a storyteller, not a crusader…
Half of a Yellow Sun
speaks through history to our war-racked age not through abstract analogy but through the energy of vibrant, sometimes horrifying detail.”

The New York Times Book Review

“Destined to become a classic.… This book confirms the notion that if you want to understand a country’s soul, read its fiction.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Adichie’s fully realized and finely observed characters hook the reader and carry the story through wrenching events to its sorrowful, tragic conclusion …By venturing so fearlessly into complex moral territory, Adichie reveals her talents as a novelist as well as her gifts as a perceptive observer of human behavior.”


“Written with unflinching clarity, what Adichie’s novel offers is a compassionate, compelling look at the nearly unfathomable immediacy of war’s effect on people.”

Chicago Tribune

“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers… She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.”

—Chinua Achebe

“Adichie uses layers of history, symbol and myth … [and] uses language with relish. She infuses her English with a robust poetry, and the narrative is cross-woven with Igbo idiom and language.”

The Times

“Adichie is part of a new generation revisiting the history that her parents survived. She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory.”

—The Guardian

“Built upon a foundation of heartbreak and pain,
Half of a Yellow Sun
is a sorrowful song. Compelling and disturbing, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has composed a harrowing tale about love set against the backdrop of Biafra’s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria during the 1960s.”


“Adichie subtly nods at those responsible for the massacre without sliding into polemics. [She] refuses to turn away from the past’s ugly reality, mourning not just the lives lost but a time when ‘people believed deeply in something.’ Through her dazzling storytelling, that time will not be easily forgotten.”

—Newsweek International

“Vividly written, thrumming with life, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s
Half of a Yellow Sun
is a remarkable novel. In its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture, this novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe’s
Things Fall Apart
and V. S. Naipaul’s
A Bend in the River

—Joyce Carol Oates

“An immense achievement… As well as freshly re-creating this nightmarish chapter in her country’s history, she writes about the slow process by which love, if strong enough, may overcome.”

The Observer

“Adichie’s powerful second novel retells the shocking story of the ethnic cleansing and mass starvation in this breakaway territory of Nigeria in 1967.… Masterfully, Adichie dissects their reactions as barbarism disrupts their bourgeois comfort and their struggle for survival.”


“Searing, beautifully written … [Adichie] creates memorably distinctive characters and shows how the horrors of persecution, massacre, starvation and war affect their lives.”

National Post


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. Her first novel,
Purple Hibiscus
, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in
The Iowa Review
among other literary journals, and she received an O. Henry Prize in 2003. She was a 2005–2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.



Purple Hibiscus



About the Author

Other Books by this Author

Title Page


Part One - The Early Sixties

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Part Two - The Late Sixties

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part Three - The Early Sixties

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Part Four - The Late Sixties

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Author’s Note


My grandfathers, whom I never knew,
Nwoye David Adichie and Aro-Nweke Felix Odigwe,
did not survive the war.

My grandmothers, Nwabuodu Regina Odigwe and
Nwamgbafor Agnes Adichie, remarkable women
both, did.

This book is dedicated to their memories:
ka fa nodu na ndokwa

And to Mellitus, wherever he may be.


Today I see it still—
Dry, wire-thin in sun and dust of the dry months—
Headstone on tiny debris of passionate courage.

—Chinua Achebe,
From “Mango Seedling” in
in Biafra and Other Poems


The Early Sixties

aster was a little crazy;
he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair. Ugwu’s aunty said this in a low voice as they walked on the path. “But he is a good man,” she added. “And as long as you work well, you will eat well. You will even eat meat every day.” She stopped to spit; the saliva left her mouth with a sucking sound and landed on the grass.

Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat
every day
. He did not disagree with his aunty, though, because he was too choked with expectation, too busy imagining his new life away from the village. They had been walking for a while now, since they got off the lorry at the motor park, and the afternoon sun burned the back of his neck. But he did not mind. He was prepared to walk hours more in even hotter sun. He had never seen anything like the streets that appeared after they went past the university gates, streets so smooth and tarred that he itched to lay his cheek down on them. He would never be able to describe to his sister Anulika how the bungalows here were painted the color of the sky and sat side by side like polite well-dressed men, how the hedges separating them were trimmed so flat on top that they looked like tables wrapped with leaves.

His aunty walked faster, her slippers making
sounds that echoed in the silent street. Ugwu wondered if she, too, could feel the coal tar getting hotter underneath, through her thin
soles. They went past a sign,
, and Ugwu mouthed
, as he did whenever he saw an English word that was not too long. He smelled something sweet, heady, as they walked into a compound, and was sure it came from the white flowers clustered on the bushes at the entrance. The bushes were shaped like slender hills. The lawn glistened. Butterflies hovered above.

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