Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

1102116So I read this book and now I shall discuss it in this post. So get ready, y’all. Oh my goodness, I’m in a mood. But this should be fun, I promise. Anyway, I read this for multiple reasons: It’s our chosen book for April (my IRL book club), it was a booktube book club choice in March, and Adichie is such a queen of all writers that it was a thing that just had to be done.

Half of a Yellow Sun follows five different protagonists from different walks of life as they navigate the civil unrest/war that occurred in Nigeria during the 1960s and the turmoil following Colonialism. The pov switches back and forth between these five narrators and between the early 60s/late 60s. So basically, character driven African historical fiction.

And there’s a whole lot to love about this book. Seriously, it won many awards and well-deserved accolades. Adichie’s writing speaks for itself. Despite its 500+ pages, I flew through the story with a fervid pace. I cared about each character and needed to know what happened to them. I loved Adichie’s decision to jump between the now and then. To show us the effect of moments that hadn’t yet been divulged to us, the readers. And then to rewind and spill the beans in reverse. So good. And spectacularly effective.

What was a bit of a miss for me was bogging down the story with so many historical facts and figures and events. Sometimes I felt like the characters had a hard time rising above being mere historical vehicles. Instead of being living, breathing people they had a tendency every now and again to feel like dusty relics from a museum tour. That sounds so, so harsh. And it’s not meant to be, really. Some might even really enjoy this aspect. But I’d have preferred a little more subtlety to my story telling. Just a personal preference.

But overall, I loved the book. I still think Americanah is her stronger novel (although I think I’m in the minority there), but Half of a Yellow Sun is not to be missed. Honestly, Adichie can’t write fast enough to satisfy my cravings for the way she tells such a complete and enthralling tale.

Can’t wait to see what my Litwit ladies have to say when we meet later in the month to discuss. I’m nervous because I’m such a delicate Adichie fangirl and can hardly stand to hear a negative thing said, even if it’s coming out of my own mouth!

Happy Monday y’all!!

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

IMG_20130906_021328Americanah is a hugely ambitious novel thematically. There’s a love story between a man and a women, another between people and their countries, racial issues, socio-economic issues, Americanism, Africanism (I’m making up the ‘isms’), Britishism, ideas of home, culture, hair, academia, liberalism, conservatism, and the list could grow much longer. That’s a lot to cram into 500 pages or less. Maybe too much.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is without a doubt one of our most talented contemporary writers. I can say that without having read any of her other novels. She has a vision and a grand mission to her writing that is often grounded in humorous anecdotes and the minutiae of everyday life. In Americanah, she’s created such an engrossing character in Ifemelu who leaves her native Nigeria and her love, Obinze, to attend college in America. Ifemelu ends up spending the next 15 years of her life living, loving, and writing amid the first world hustle and bustle. She becomes a cultural writer with a hugely successful blog discussing her views of race and racism from the perspective of a non-American black. Then she decides to head home to Nigeria and face the man she abandoned all those years ago who is now rich, married, and a father.

Adichie’s writing was rich and engaging once I had warmed up to Ifemelu as a character. The narrative does skip between her perspective and Obinze’s, but more often than not we are with the blunt and sharp tongue of Ifemelu as she navigates her new life in the States. Ifemelu is not an easy character to read, many won’t like her, but the way she sees things is so revealing and undeniable. Despite her rough edges, she’s a literary character I want more of and regretted leaving. I loved her blog posts as she tackled the topic of racism in America. She didn’t allow me to shy away from tough questions about the country’s prejudices and my own.

But like I said earlier, Americanah does try to do a bit too much and suffers from not necessarily knowing what type of story it actually wants to be. I can’t help but think if only a couple of the themes addressed above were handled instead of all, this could have been a nearly perfect novel. I’d even go so far as to say that the last 50 or so pages of romance between Obinze and Ifemelu were utterly unnecessary.

All that aside, Adichie has won over a new fan and I can’t wait to read the rest of her work. Americanah is an important book, a big book, and although not perfect, damn near close enough.

RATING: starstarstarstarrating_star_half-1cx8y5d