The success of Chimamanda’s second novel knows little rivalry as she not only crafted a literary masterpiece from the pages of the past, but humanized and gave life to the story of war, strife, and half of a yellow setting sun.
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ features a story that alternates between before and during the Nigerian civil war. The story’s format creates a want for the reader to know more about what happens in the next scene.
The first part of the story explores living for the main characters before the civil war; it shows the beauty of living in a new nation headed for greatness. The second part plunges the reader into the late 1960s, where Olanna witnesses the killing of Igbos in Kano. The third part of the novel explains both the first and second parts of the story. Finally, the fourth part merges all the action and storytelling into a historically accurate ending.
Chimamanda’s alternation of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’s’ story creates an effect of unpredictability as the story gives answers to questions it asked in earlier parts of the story. Apart from ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ Chimamanda included a separate novel written by the fictional character Ugwu. ‘The World Was Silent When We Died’ is a child story birthed by Ugwu’s experience of the civil war and the Biafran Army. Chimamanda’s perfect synchronization of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ with its child story not only created authenticity but also created an exceptionally inculcated embedded narrative.
Characters and Dialogue
Even with an exceptional story, Chimamanda’s use of refined authentic characters is one of the reasons the novel holds a position among one of the best pieces of literature. With nitty-gritty detailing and excellent personality attribution, each character of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ exists in a sphere of reality created by Chimamanda.
Guiding the story’s plot with the lives of its main characters, Chimamanda successfully split the novel into a tale of four separate lives. Chimamanda explored using dialogues strikingly similar to people of the time and era. ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’s’ simplicity as related to dialoguing made the novel add the element of post-independence and war-torn Nigeria perfectly.
Separately, each character in Chimamanda’s novel had hopes, dreams, ambitions, and regrets that haunted them before and after the war ended. Though the reader gets a plot hole related to Kainene, it only adds the feeling of optimism or pessimism depending on the reader.
Though the story of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ focused on the Igbo people, there was a rich integration of intercultural elements throughout the novel. The use of unique pidgin words created a Nigerian environment for the story. Having had to switch between all three major zones of Nigeria, Chimamanda used terms that perfectly portrayed each region.
Writing Style and Ending
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ features simplistic words, empathetic writing, metaphorically dominated plots, and third-person perspective to drive the story. Chimamanda’s use of the main characters as story drivers proved incredibly beneficial as it created a diversified storytelling perspective.
The ending of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ creates a feeling of euphoria and sadness. Euphoria because the main characters had their lives impacted positively by the war. Sadness, though the characters survived the war, they were never the same joy-filled happy people they were before the war started; this makes ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ an even mix of tragedy and comedy.
Is Half of a Yellow Sun a true story?
Though a historical fiction novel, Chimamanda stated that most of the incidents in the book are related to actual events.
What is the tone of Half of a Yellow Sun?
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ uses an empathetic tone with the reader.
What kind of book is Half of a Yellow Sun?
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is a historical and political fiction novel.
Is Half of a Yellow Sun a good book to read?
Definitely, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is a great book to read, and its fantastic story leaves a mark on the reader.
Half of a Yellow Sun Review
Lasting Effect on Reader
Half of a Yellow Sun: Only The Dead Have Seen The End of War
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is a fictional novel that shows how the Nigerian civil war of 1967 shaped the lives of four people from different works of life. Based on history, the novel takes its readers back to a dark age in the history of Nigeria.
- Exceptional storytelling
- Great dialogues and characters
- Incredible referencing to historical events
- Excellent use of uniquely indigenous language
- Fantastic ending
- The large number of characters makes the story tracking tedious
- Some characters are not well defined