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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“If intentions were horses...” Wait, what's the proverb?

 

I've had intentions of reading Half of a Yellow Sun since I first noticed it in 2008. It has been sitting patiently at the top of my to-read pile for years. I'm not sure why it took this long, but it did. Finally, I can say I've read it and, not surprisingly, I enjoyed it greatly.

 

This is such an evocative and poetic novel. The language, the story, the characters, the setting—this is nearly a perfect novel. I was truly engaged and greatly informed. So why not perfect? Well, the pacing seemed off—the book drags a bit in the middle. And it does perhaps border on the melodramatic occasionally. So what? Everything done right in this novel makes up for its weaker points.

 

As I look back a few days after finishing Half of a Yellow Sun, I realize what stuck with me most was the characters. I really love watching Kainene, Ugwu, and Richard as well as many of the secondary characters. There were times I didn't like these characters, moments when they angered or disappointed me, but I guess this is a testament to how much I had invested in them and believed them to be real. I wasn't quite as invested in Olanna and Odenigbo, but I still enjoyed their respective stories.

 

I look forward to reading more from Adichie. Not only has this work made me excited about the author herself, but also other writers from the region whose work I haven't read in far too many years (Achebe) and other authors I have yet to discover. I have every intention to read a little more from west Africa in the next year or so. “...two intentions don't make a right”? “...people who live in glass houses should not have intentions”?

 

“Better late than never.”