Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three top books on Nigeria

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Nigeria. One title on the list:
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie's powerful second novel spans the decade to the end of the 1967-70 secessionist Biafran war, which tore Nigeria apart and took millions of lives.

The intelligent, compassionate story weaves together the lives and different worlds of five protagonists, among them a charismatic, revolutionary academic, his beautiful partner, and their houseboy, who develops a fierce loyalty to his employers.

As the conflict deepens, the Igbo population in the region suffer as they are sucked into hunger, squalor and violence. Personal and private struggles take centre stage as friendships and loyalties are severely tested, but the story encompasses wider themes such as postcolonialism, ethnic loyalties and race.

The pain and poignancy of the time are beautifully evoked as the new nation's hopes and dreams – represented by the half of a yellow sun emblem that appears on Biafra's flag – flower briefly, before being brutally crushed.

One of the characters in the novel is writing a book titled The World Was Silent When We Died. As if in response, Half of a Yellow Sun provides a searing history lesson that brings a distant war up close, and works as a powerful antidote to forgetting.
Read about another book on the list.

Half of a Yellow Sun is one of Lorraine Adams's six best books.

Learn about the book that changed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's life.

Also see Helon Habila's list of three books that will help readers better understand Nigeria.

--Marshal Zeringue