Book of the month: December 2020 -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun

In my intermittent Bookshelf Sweeps, there are authors I cannot send to the charity shop.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adikie’s Half of a Yellow Sun is one of them.  This month saw her wonderful novel chosen by public vote as Winner of Winners marking 25 years of The Women’s Prize for Fiction.

I am currently rereading the book, re-acquainting myself with the three main intertwined protagonists who symbolise and drive Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fictionalised account of the Biafran War. This was a civil war in Nigeria, with horrific suffering and atrocities taking place during 1967 to 1970. 

 In the current era of virtual literary and cultural events, I was able to hear and see the author’s account during the awards ceremony for the Women’s Prize of how she prepares for such mammoth endeavours as this novel. Is it Historical Fiction? Is it True?

 I was caught by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s response:

She grew up in the shadow of the war. As a teenager, she asked questions of those around her and closely pursued archive researches for factual answers. This is the division she makes between fact and fiction. In other words; she found Facts in the archives and Truth in listening to stories all around her, particularly from her father. The mix makes for a great read. Chinua Achebe, no less, pronounced her as “A new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.” 

No longer “A New Writer,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has become an ambassador for world writing and ideas. Asked how she saw herself quite recently, she thought for a while and then said “Socially engaged.” 

Not for nothing did every 16-year-old in Sweden receive a copy of her TED talk. I would encourage everyone to read the novel and to look out for her talks.  Chimamanda is an inspirational woman and skilful novelist who can help to interpret big human issues.  After the difficult year we have experienced in 2020, novels such as Half a Yellow Sun can help to set things in perspective, where we learn about the resilience of the human spirit.

Morag Charlwood 

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