Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006
I remember the time when we were teenagers and I was a member of a youth group at church. We bought oranges, wrote "Biafra" on them and sold them after mass. We wanted to help all those poor children that were dying of hunger in Biafra.
I don't think many of us knew where Biafra was. After all, it was a new country. We learned the African countries at school but Biafra hadn't been among them.
And even though I am sure many others have collected money for Biafra, I totally can relate to the quote "The world was silent when we died." Yes, we were silent, we are still silent. Many of us don't know what happened and I am so content that I read this story and learned a little bit more about a part of this continent that still has to overcome so many problems thrown at them by us Europeans. Biafra is just one of the areas, I can think of many others, Rwanda, for example.
This book has been on my TBR pile for a while. Why? I think the only reason is that my TBR pile is too large. The book is marvelous. The story just throws you right into the lives of Ugwu, Olanna and Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard. You are in the middle of their struggles, their problems, their will to survive. What a fantastic story. You want to finish it within a day but you also don't ever want to finish it because you are afraid of what is coming at the end. You get to know not only the characters but the whole situation, you get to know the country and the history. Just brilliant.
The title of this novel represents the flag of Biafra, a flag I had never seen, therefore the title didn't tell me anything at all. But if you know the flag, all becomes clear. Look it up.
I will surely read more by this wonderful author.
From the back cover:
"In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university lecturer. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. The third is Richard, a shy Englishman in thrall to Olanna`s enigmatic twin sister. When the shocking horror of the war engulfs them, their loyalties are severely tested as they are pulled apart and thrown together in ways that none of them imagined ..."
The author lists a lot of books that she used for research. I think all of them would be worth reading, as well, though I doubt I will ever manage to finish them all.
Achebe, Chinua "Girls at War and Other Stories"
Amadi, Elechi "Sunset in Biafra"
Brandler, J.L. "Out of Nigeria"
Collis, Robert "Nigeria in Conflict"
De St. Jorre, John "the Nigerian Civil War"
Ekwe-Ekwe, Herbert "The Biafran War: Nigeria and the Aftermath"
Ekwensi, Cyprian "Divided We Stand"
Emecheta, Buchi "Destination Biafra"
Enekwe, Ossie "Come Thunder"
Forsyth, Frederick "Biafra Story"
Gold, Herbert "Biafra Goodbye"
Ike, Chukwuemeka "Sunset at Dawan"
Iroh, Eddie "The Siren at Night"
Jacobs, Dan "The Brutality of Nations"
Kanu, Anthonia "Broken Lives and Other Stories"
Madiebo, Alex "the Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War"
Mok, Micheal "Biafra Journal
Niven, Rex "The War of Nigerian Unity"
Njoku, Hilary "A Tragedy Without Heroes"
Nwankwo, Arthur Agwuncha "The Making of a Nation"
Nwapa, Flora "Never Again"
Nwapa, Flora "Wives at War"
Odogwu, Bernard "No Place to Hide: Crises and Conflicts Inside Biafra"
Okigbo, Christopher "Labyrinths"
Okonta, Ike and Douglas, Oronta "Where Vultures Feed"
Okpaku, Joseph "Nigeria: Dilemma of Nationhood"
Okpi, Kalu "Biafra Testament"
Soyinka, Wole "The Man Died
Stremlau, John J. "The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War"
Uwechue, Ralph "Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War"
Uzokwe, Alfred Obiora "Surviving in Biafra"
There are more books mentioned at the end by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and other African writers that are worth reading:
Achebe, Chinua "Arrow of God"
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Purple Hibiscus"
Chinodya, Shimmer "Harvest of Thorns"
Oguibe, Olu "Lessons from the Killing Fields"
Wainana, Binyavanga “How To Write About Africa.”
She also mentions this book several times in the novel:
Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"