Orange Prize Richard and Judy Book Club

Half of a Yellow Sun – Thoughts at the half way point

Winner of the Orange Prize 2007




On reflection the half way point is a terrible place to stop and write notes on this book. I should have chosen a place about a third of the way in, when the characters had just been introduced, before the horrific events start to take place. Having not read the book I wasn’t to know this, and so I’ll have to make the most of it, and try to form some opinions, despite being in the middle of the fast paced devastation taking place in the book at the moment.

The book did not progress as I expected it too. The writing style was different to Purple Hibiscus, in that it seemed more complex, and instead of focusing on one central character we are introduced to lots of different ones, who don’t seem to have anything in common. The build up was very slow, and I was beginning to wonder why people rave about this book so much, as it didn’t have much appeal initially.

The female characters don’t appear to be as strong as the male ones at this half way point. Perhaps this is just a reflection of the African nation, where men take a more dominant role in society, but the female characters are coming across as quite vague and hard to relate to at this stage.

My favourite character is Ugwu. He is a boy from a poor village, who goes to work as a houseboy for a university lecturer. I especially loved the scene at the start of the book where he goes to his Master’s house for the first time, and is excited by the food and running water he finds there:

Ugwu turned off the tap, turned it on again, then off. On and off and on and off until he was laughing at the magic of the  running water and the chicken and bread that lay balmy in his stomach.

Scenes like this remind us of how lucky we are in the west to have basic luxuries like running water in our homes.

The pace of the book has picked up a lot in the last few chapters. The scenes of violence are disturbing, and my heart is often in my mouth as I read the words. I can only imagine that it is going to get much worse in the final half of the book. My only wish is that Ugwu survives to the end, and has a promising future predicted.

What are your thoughts on the first half of the book?

Is it how you expected it to be? Are you enjoying it?

Who is your favourite character?


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the Internet

My Half of a Yellow Sun read-along started yesterday, so I thought I’d have a quick look for some information on the Internet, in the hope it will increase my reading pleasure!

Here’s what I found:

The Official Half of a Yellow Sun website contains everything you’d want to know about the book. There are excerpts, reviews, and an interview with Chimamanda about the story behind the book which is particularly interesting.

The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website contains a biography, an interview with her, and links to lots more facts about her on the Internet.

If you feel you are missing out by not being able to read The Thing around Your Neck yet then there are links to almost all the short stories contained in it here. After reading that lot, you probably don’t need to spend the money on the book!

There are also links to lots of essays that she has written, and I think I’ll make an effort to read them. I don’t normally read essays, but as I love her writing so much they are probably a great place for me to start.

This little exercise has taught me to google authors more often! There are so many interesting facts out there, and I am especially pleased to have found all the links to the short stories and essays.

How often do you google authors?

Have you found any sites which are particularly good for author facts?