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Half of a Yellow Sun (Anglais) Broché – 15 janvier 2007
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Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat every day. He did not disagree with his aunty, though, because he was too choked with expectation, too busy imagining his new life away from the village. They had been walking for a while now, since they got off the lorry at the motor park, and the afternoon sun burned the back of his neck. But he did not mind. He was prepared to walk hours more in even hotter sun. He had never seen anything like the streets that appeared after they went past the university gates, streets so smooth and tarred that he itched to lay his cheek down on them. He would never be able to describe to his sister Anulika how the bungalows here were painted the color of the sky and sat side by side like polite well-dressed men, how the hedges separating them were trimmed so flat on top that they looked like tables wrapped with leaves.
His aunty walked faster, her slippers making slap-slap sounds that echoed in the silent street. Ugwu wondered if she, too, could feel the coal tar getting hotter underneath, through her thin soles. They went past a sign, ODIM STREET, and Ugwu mouthed street, as he did whenever he saw an English word that was not too long. He smelled something sweet, heady, as they walked into a compound, and was sure it came from the white flowers clustered on the bushes at the entrance. The bushes were shaped like slender hills. The lawn glistened. Butterflies hovered above.
"I told Master you will learn everything fast, osiso-osiso," his aunty said. Ugwu nodded attentively although she had already told him this many times, as often as she told him the story of how his good fortune came about: While she was sweeping the corridor in the mathematics department a week ago, she heard Master say that he needed a houseboy to do his cleaning, and she immediately said she could help, speaking before his typist or office messenger could offer to bring someone.
"I will learn fast, Aunty," Ugwu said. He was staring at the car in the garage; a strip of metal ran around its blue body like a necklace.
"Remember, what you will answer whenever he calls you is Yes, sah!"
"Yes, sah!" Ugwu repeated.
They were standing before the glass door. Ugwu held back from reaching out to touch the cement wall, to see how different it would feel from the mud walls of his mother's hut that still bore the faint patterns of molding fingers. For a brief moment, he wished he were back there now, in his mother's hut, under the dim coolness of the thatch roof; or in his aunty's hut, the only one in the village with a corrugated iron roof.
His aunty tapped on the glass. Ugwu could see the white curtains behind the door. A voice said, in English, "Yes? Come in."
They took off their slippers before walking in. Ugwu had never seen a room so wide. Despite the brown sofas arranged in a semicircle, the side tables between them, the shelves crammed with books, and the center table with a vase of red and white plastic flowers, the room still seemed to have too much space. Master sat in an armchair, wearing a singlet and a pair of shorts. He was not sitting upright but slanted, a book covering his face, as though oblivious that he had just asked people in.
"Good afternoon, sah! This is the child," Ugwu's aunty said.
Master looked up. His complexion was very dark, like old bark, and the hair that covered his chest and legs was a lustrous, darker shade. He pulled off his glasses. "The child?"
"The houseboy, sah."
"Oh, yes, you have brought the houseboy. I kpotago ya." Master's Igbo felt feathery in Ugwu's ears. It was Igbo colored by the sliding sounds of English, the Igbo of one who spoke English often.
"He will work hard," his aunty said. "He is a very good boy. Just tell him what he should do. Thank, sah!"
Master grunted in response, watching Ugwu and his aunty with a faintly distracted expression, as if their presence made it difficult for him to remember something important. Ugwu's aunty patted Ugwu's shoulder, whispered that he should do well, and turned to the door. After she left, Master put his glasses back on and faced his book, relaxing further into a slanting position, legs stretched out. Even when he turned the pages he did so with his eyes on the book.
Ugwu stood by the door, waiting. Sunlight streamed in through the windows, and from time to time a gentle breeze lifted the curtains. The room was silent except for the rustle of Master's page-turning. Ugwu stood for a while before he began to edge closer and closer to the bookshelf, as though to hide in it, and then, after a while, he sank down to the floor, cradling his raffia bag between his knees. He looked up at the ceiling, so high up, so piercingly white. He closed his eyes and tried to reimagine this spacious room with the alien furniture, but he couldn't. He opened his eyes, overcome by a new wonder, and looked around to make sure it was all real. To think that he would sit on these sofas, polish this slippery-smooth floor, wash these gauzy curtains.
"Kedu afa gi? What's your name?" Master asked, startling him.
Ugwu stood up.
"What's your name?" Master asked again and sat up straight. He filled the armchair, his thick hair that stood high on his head, his muscled arms, his broad shoulders; Ugwu had imagined an older man, somebody frail, and now he felt a sudden fear that he might not please this master who looked so youthfully capable, who looked as if he needed nothing.
"Ugwu. And you've come from Obukpa?"
"From Opi, sah."
"You could be anything from twelve to thirty." Master narrowed his eyes. "Probably thirteen." He said thirteen in English.
Master turned back to his book. Ugwu stood there. Master flipped past some pages and looked up. "Ngwa, go to the kitchen; there should be something you can eat in the fridge."
Ugwu entered the kitchen cautiously, placing one foot slowly after the other. When he saw the white thing, almost as tall as he was, he knew it was the fridge. His aunty had told him about it. A cold barn, she had said, that kept food from going bad. He opened it and gasped as the cool air rushed into his face. Oranges, bread, beer, soft drinks: many things in packets and cans were arranged on different levels and, and on the topmost, a roasted shimmering chicken, whole but for a leg. Ugwu reached out and touched the chicken. The fridge breathed heavily in his ears. He touched the chicken again and licked his finger before he yanked the other leg off, eating it until he had only the cracked, sucked pieces of bones left in his hand. Next, he broke off some bread, a chunk that he would have been excited to share with his siblings if a relative had visited and brought it as a gift. He ate quickly, before Master could come in and change his mind. He had finished eating and was standing by the sink, trying to remember what his aunty had told him about opening it to have water gush out like a spring, when Master walked in. He had put on a print shirt and a pair of trousers. His toes, which peeked through leather slippers, seemed feminine, perhaps because they were so clean; they belonged to feet that always wore shoes.
"What is it?" Master asked.
"Sah?" Ugwu gestured to the sink.
Master came over and turned the metal tap. "You should look around the house and put your bag in the first room on the corridor. I'm going for a walk, to clear my head, i nugo?"
"Yes, sah." Ugwu watched him leave through the back door. He was not tall. His walk was brisk, energetic, and he looked like Ezeagu, the man who held the wrestling record in Ugwu's village.
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. He went past the living room and into the corridor. There were books piled on the shelves and tables in the three bedrooms, on the sink and cabinets in the bathroom, stacked from floor to ceiling in the study, and in the store, old journals were stacked next to crates of Coke and cartons of Premier beer. Some of the books were placed face down, open, as though Master had not yet finished reading them but had hastily gone on to another. Ugwu tried to read the titles, but most were too long, too difficult. Non-Parametric Methods. An African Survey. The Great Chain of Being. The Norman Impact Upon England. He walked on tiptoe from room to room, because his feet felt dirty, and as he did so he grew increasingly determined to please Master, to stay in this house of meat and cool floors. He was examining the toilet, running his hand over the black plastic seat, when he heard Master's voice.
"Where are you, my good man?" He said my good man in English.
Ugwu dashed out to the living room. "Yes, sah!"
"What's your name again?"
"Yes, Ugwu. Look here, nee anya, do you know what that is?" Master pointed, and Ugwu looked at the metal box studded with dangerous-looking knobs.
"No, sah," Ugwu said.
"It's a radiogram. It's new and very good. It's not like those old gramophones that you have to wind and wind. You have to be very careful around it, very careful. You must never let water touch it."
"I'm off to play tennis, and then I'll go on to the staff club." Master picked up a few books from the table. "I may be back late. So get settled and have a rest."
After Ugwu watched Master drive out of the compound, he went and stood beside the radiogram and looked at it carefully, without touching it. Then he walked around the house, up and down, touching books and curtains and furniture and plates, and when it got dark he turned the light on and marveled at how bright the bulb that dangled from the ceiling was, how it did not cast long shadows on the wall like the palm oil lamps back home. His mother would be preparing the evening meal now, pounding akpu in the mortar, the pestle grasped tight with both hands. Chioke, the junior wife, would be tending the pot of watery soup balanced on three stones over the fire. The children would have come back from the stream and would be taunting and chasing one another under the breadfruit tree. Perhaps Anulika would be watching them. She was the oldest child in the household now, and as they all sat around the fire to eat, she would break up the fights when the younger ones struggled over the strips of dried fish in the soup. She would wait until all the akpu was eaten and then divide the fish so that each child had a piece, and she would keep the biggest for herself, as he had always done.
Ugwu opened the fridge and ate some more bread and chicken, quickly stuffing the food in his mouth while his heart beat as if he were running; then he dug out extra chunks of meat and pulled out the wings. He slipped the pieces into his shorts pockets before going to the bedroom. He would keep them until his aunty visited and he would ask her to give them to Anulika. Perhaps he could ask her to give some to Nnesinachi too. That might make Nnesinachi finally notice him. He had never been sure exactly how he and Nnesinachi were related, but he knew they were from the same umunna and therefore could never marry. Yet he wished that his mother would not keep referring to Nnesinachi as his sister, saying things like "Please take this palm oil down to Mama Nnesinachi, and if she is not in leave it with your sister."
Nnesinachi always spoke to him in a vague voice, her eyes unfocused, as if his presence made no difference to her either way. Sometimes she called him Chiejina, the name of his cousin who looked nothing at all like him, and when he said, "It's me," she would say, "Forgive me, Ugwu my brother," with a distant formality that meant she had no wish to make further conversation. But he liked going on errands to her house. They were opportunities to find her bent over, fanning the firewood or chopping ugu leaves for her mother's soup pot, or just sitting outside looking after her younger siblings, her wrapper hanging low enough for him to see the tops of her breasts. Ever since they started to push out, those pointy breasts, he had wondered if they would feel mushy-soft or hard like the unripe fruit from the ube tree. He often wished that Anulika wasn't so flat-chested—he wondered what was taking her so long anyway, since she and Nnesinachi were about the same age—so that he could feel her breasts. Anulika would slap his hand away, of course, and perhaps even slap his face as well, but he would do it quickly—squeeze and run—and that way he would at least have an idea and know what to expect when he finally touched Nnesinachi's. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
Revue de presse
–Marie-Elena John, Black Issues
“[It’s] hard not to place Adichie alongside a new generation of post-postcolonial writers who, while paying due respect to Achebe (and, for that matter, Kincaid, Naipaul, Gordimer, and Coetzee), are moving beyond them on their own terms . . . . Adichie’s nuanced prose takes great pains to undo the reductive attitudes many in the West harbor toward African people . . . And yet Adichie does not rant against the West . . . [Criticism] and compassion coexist. She understands that it takes many hands to shape war . . . For Adichie, pain unifies us, and it’s often that same pain that keeps us from recognizing that unity . . . Adichie’s novel [has], a narrative humility coupled with an epic ambition . . . Are there any easy answers in [Half of a Yellow Sun]? Certainly not. But Adichie, in the process, asks the hell out of her questions, rendering them in all their haunting, beautiful silence.”
–Stephen Narains, The Harvard Book Review
“A gorgeous, pitiless account of love, violence and betrayal during the Biafran war.”
“Rich, lyrical . . . Incorporating the lives of diverse tribes and a looming political war, [Adichie] engages readers with a story that is intoxicatingly addictive from page one.”
–The Ave magazine
“Half of a Yellow Sun, which follows a group of upper-class Nigerians during the social upheaval of the Biafran war of the 1960s, is a protean work of the imagination that is all the more remarkable at having been written by someone who isn’t yet 30. The novel is Tolstoyan in its grasp of history and in its ability to traverse various ends of the social spectrum from a village manservant to the daughter of wealthy bureaucrats.”
–David Milofsky, Denver Post
“The Nigerian author’s masterful novel uses the 1967 genocide in Biafra as a backdrop for a nuanced tale about decent people in moral chaos.”
–Michelle Green, People
“Alluring and revelatory . . . eloquent . . . Prize-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is quickly proving herself to be fearless in the tradition of the great African writers . . . . She has a keen ability to capture the nurturing and destructive nuances that permeate human relationships. Her characters surprise themselves and the reader.”
–Aïssatou Sidimé, San Antonio Express-News
“Compelling . . . The author lyrically interweaves the stories of twin sisters, their families, friends and servants into a single story that is riveting political, social and human history . . . Insightful.”
–Jane Ramos Trimble, Panache / Fort-Worth Star Telegram magazine
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie proves herself a talented and ambitious writer with [this] far-reaching and engrossing historical novel about the 1967 Nigerian civil war . . . [It] encompasses a large cast whose individual dramas are set within the panoramic landscape of war. Adichie’s fully realized and finely observed characters hook the reader and carry the story through wrenching events to its sorrowful, tragic conclusion . . . . Adichie’s clear-sighted examination reveals how quickly national loyalties, even when rooted in seemingly just causes, can become entangled with self-absorption, denial and even cruelty. By venturing so fearlessly into complex moral territory, Adichie reveals her talents as a novelist as well as her gifts as a perceptive observer of human behavior.”
–Heather Hewett, Newsday
“A whopping good read. It’s like Gone with the Wind, except in Nigeria.”
–New York magazine
“A novel that [uses] fiction to its best advantage, telling the stories of ordinary people–loving, fallible, passionate and vulnerable–ineluctably caught in savage circumstances of chaos, breakdown and violence . . . . Adichie has immense sympathy for her characters, embracing them, faults and all . . . By the time military coups explode into mass killings, and the creation of the Republic of Biafra collapses into a vicious civil war later in the decade, you willingly follow [them] as their lives change drastically . . . . Written with unflinching clarity, what Adichie’s novel offers is a compassionate, compelling look at the nearly unfathomable immediacy of war’s effect on people . . . . Half of a Yellow Sun [ensures] that precious memories have been given eloquent and far-reaching voices. [A] heart-stopping [tribute] to that unbreakable human bond, love.”
–Daneet Steffens, Chicago Tribune
“In her sweeping novel, Adichie creates a masterful tale of Biafra’s hopeful birth and terrible death.”
–The Sunday Star-Ledger
“Half of a Yellow Sun entirely absorbs the reader . . . [and] leaves you reeling at the horrors people can inflict on one another. Set during the internecine Nigeria-Biafra conflict, it is a bootless, toothless cry against the wickedness of what one character describes as ‘the custodians of fate.’ The stark maturity of its vision is so startling that the great African novelist Chinua Achebe refused to believe the book could have been written by someone so young . . . From the very first page you understand just what he means. Adichie resolutely refuses to show off. She writes in a stately, almost grandiloquent manner–the mode of eons-old epics about civilizations battered by war–and relies on the potency of her story rather than flashy phrase-making to sustain the interest of her reader . . . . Adichie dramatizes the savage diurnal grind as her characters struggle to survive Biafra in the face of bombing raids, starvation and the constant threat of being overrun by Nigerian ‘vandals.’ Atrocity is ever-present, included not for shock value but simply because such horrors happened . . . Masterfully understated . . . the book takes on an urgent, visceral power . . . . [Over] the course of the book the characters burrow into your marrow and mind, and you come to care for them deeply.”
–Alistair Sooke, The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“Adichie uses layers of history, symbol and myth . . . . [and] uses language with relish. She infuses her English with a robust poetry, and the narrative is cross-woven with Igbo idiom and language. The novel reflects on language both as a means of communication, and of identity, which may be a threat or a means of belonging. Speaking Igbo instead of Yoruba may lead to a beating or death, as war erupts . . . . Adichie returns again and again to the idea of belonging. What does it mean, how do cultures create networks of belonging and exclusion? The novel circles these questions, although they can never be resolved.”
–Helen Dunmore, The Times (UK)
“After her outstanding first novel Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new novel was eagerly awaited and doesn’t disappoint. It is again set in her homeland of Nigeria, but this time, during the 1960s and the fratricidal Biafran war . . . . [Nigeria] has been riven by wars, saddled with military dictatorships, endemic corruption and is characterized by huge economic disparities. It has, though, also produced more than its fair share of Africa’s best writers and Adichie is undoubtedly among them. This is not an ‘African’ book in the narrow or parochial sense, but belongs in the mainstream of humanitarian world literature, even though it is firmly rooted in Nigeria. Adichie writes with a maturity that belies her mere 29 years. In her eloquent and passionate prose, the heat, the smells, the sensuality and color of Africa leap from the pages. Her characters are finely drawn and vibrantly alive . . . . Through her main characters, [Adichie] teases out the class, race and economic conflicts that are endemic in her country. Her novel explores the issues of moral responsibility, the legacies of colonialism, the consequences of ethnic ties, class and race and how relationships on a personal level intertwine and interact on these. This is a novel which does more than tickle the taste buds, it takes the reader deep into African reality and the souls of our brothers and sisters in a part of the world that rarely figures on our world map unless there is a catastrophe or calamity of enormous proportions.”
–John Green, Morning Star (UK)
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s luminous and formidable talent was first seen in Purple Hibiscus. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, takes its title from the emblem for Biafra, the breakaway state in eastern Nigeria that survived for only three years, and whose name became a global byword for war by starvation. Adichie’s powerful focus on war’s impact on civilian life, and the trauma beyond the trenches, earns this novel a place alongside such works as Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and Helen Dunmore’s depiction of the Leningrad blockade, The Siege . . . . As Biafran secession ‘for security’ brings a refugee crisis, a retaliatory Nigerian blockade and all-out war, and world refuses to recognize the fledgling state, the focus is on the characters’ grief, resilience, and fragmenting relationships . . . . A landmark novel, whose clear, undemonstrative prose can so precisely delineate nuance . . . [A] rare emotional truth . . . . Adichie is part of a new generation revisiting the history that her parents survived. She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory.”
–Maya Jaggi, The Guardian (UK)
“Set in 1960s Nigeria, this novel provides a historical record at the same time as giving an insight into the experience of living through a bloody civil war . . . . Adichie is a beguiling author . . . . Full of drama and characters you care about . . . Educational and enlightening.”
–The Works (UK) (four stars)
“Set during the Nigerian/Biafran civil war in the late Sixties, this moving and thrilling book centers on the lives of two twin sisters and those close to them . . . . Adichie has the rare gift of being able to create a whole person in a couple of lines. Her compassion for her people is all-embracing as she gently mocks their little foibles and refuses to judge what war makes them capable of. This book paints a massive canvas through intimate detail. It is funny, heartbreaking, exquisitely written, and, without doubt, a literary masterpiece and a classic.”
–John Harding, Daily Mail (UK)
“In her richly imagined new novel, Adichie recounts [the] explosive time [before and during the Biafran War] through the tales of several people linked through love, loyalty and birth . . . bringing alive events that remain for many of us remote both in time and place . . . [All] of the main characters share [the] same fevered patriotism for their new homeland. But as the horrors of war mount, they must fight to keep their relationships together, as their world and their ideals are torn apart. The power behind this novel lies in how seamlessly Adichie melds the personal and the political in her narrative. War is defined not only by the casualties of civilians and soldiers, but by the death of a collective dream. The Republic of Biafra may be gone, but thanks to Adichie, it is not forgotten.”
–Amy Woods Butler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Conflict and corruption, exile and loss. The new novelists chronicling modern Nigeria and its place in the world shy from none of it. But it’s not just their attention to the big issues that these literary heirs to Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe have in common. There’s the food . . . [In] describing the textures and smells of the kitchen and the way the making and eating of meals can define an individual’s place in society, the novelists find the universal in the details. And in hunger, they find a metaphor for other human yearnings–for peace, for justice, for home . . . While several common themes run through their work, these new Nigerians are a diverse group. Their rise brings to mind the late 1990s prominence of debuting Indian writers like Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai who explored similar issues in starkly different ways . . . ‘For me, it was gratifying to hear from people who are not Nigerian, not African, that they saw themselves in the novel,’ Adichie, perhaps the best known of the new voices from Nigeria, said of her first novel, Purple Hibiscus. This year, Adichie followed with the even more ambitious Half of a Yellow Sun, which was named a New York Times editors’ choice.”
–The Associated Press / International Herald Tribune
“Powerful . . . a complex tale of human passions and flaws . . . The main characters share the proud desire to build a new nation out of the chaos of postcolonial Nigeria. Yet [Half of a Yellow Sun] deftly avoids becoming a political manifesto . . . Adichie subtly nods at those responsible for the massacre without sliding into polemics. [She] refuses to turn away from the past’s ugly reality, mourning not just the lives lost but a time when ‘people believed deeply in something.’ Through her dazzling storytelling, that time will not be easily forgotten.”
–Amber Haq, Newsweek International
“[Half of a Yellow Sun] spans the decade to the end of the Biafran war, in which more than a million people died. Its focus is the impact of the war on [Adichie’s] characters and the characters they interact with. A story striking for its speed . . . Direct . . . It works, mysteriously, and is strange and new.”
–Eleanor Birne, London Review of Books
“Based loosely on political events in nineteen-sixties Nigeria, [Half of a Yellow Sun] focuses on two wealthy sisters, who drift apart as the newly independent nation struggles to remain unified . . . After a series of massacres targeting the Igbo people, [their] carefully genteel world disintegrates. Adichie indicts the outside world for its indifference and probes the arrogance and ignorance that perpetuated the conflict. Yet this is no polemic. The characters and landscape are vividly painted, and details used to heartbreaking effect.”
–The New Yorker
“Richly drawn . . . We develop great sympathy and affection for [Adichie’s characters] as the story moves along, and come to care very much about what is in store for them, as all the very best novels make us do . . . . [This] is not primarily a political novel, but a novel about a group of people undergoing a catastrophe and somehow enduring . . . desperately clinging to their belief that they will prevail . . . A moving tribute . . . [It] will not be long before Half of a Yellow Sun becomes a classic [and] comes to take its place in world literature, alongside the masterpieces of the post-colonial world.”
–Richard Stack, New Haven Independent
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has delivered a big novel about life in modern Nigeria during war time. The war in question is the Biafran War of the 1960s, during which the southern region of Biafra fought unsuccessfully to secede . . . The book mainly follows the fortunes of Olanna . . . a beautiful, well-educated Igbo woman . . . and those of a psychologically fascinating and varied cast of characters, from high-society colonials on down to Ugwu, an Igbo country boy. Though their daily lives and destinies as well are tied to the end of peace and the rise of war, Adichie makes them above all else interesting, even compelling, as sharply defined individuals. This lends to the novel a powerful psychological element that we don’t always find in historical fiction. Ms. Adichie is far too young for us to declare that she’s the Tolstoy of west Africa . . . But she’s as good as any of her contemporaries, who are a talented lot indeed, at keeping our interest alive in a part of the world that most of us have never visited–until now.”
–Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, National Public Radio
“Engrossing . . . [Half of a Yellow Sun] incisively explores the disjunction between history as it is experienced personally and its result: that the world will continue to trundle on its way in spite of history’s injustices. Set during the turbulent first decades of Nigeria’s independence in the 1960s, which saw the county torn apart by the Biafran Civil War, the novel vividly brings to life the political and cultural crises that beset post-independence Nigeria. Moving back and forth in time between the euphoric optimism of independence in the early 60s and the nightmarish descent into civil war in the late 60s, Adichie probes the impact of politics and war on the psyche of ordinary people . . . Adichie’s characters are ultimately powerless to control the course of events . . . [but] the consolation for the trials of history, the novel seems to say, are the human bonds that individuals forge with one another. In its deeply insightful portrayal of one of Nigeria’s most traumatic epochs, Adichie’s novel affirms a different kind of historical ‘truth’–not the facile truth of facts, figures, and dates, but the deeper truth of throbbing, lived experience.”
–Fatin Abbas, The Nation
“The young Nigerian-born writer, who won prizes for Purple Hibiscus, should win more with her powerful second novel of Africa in turmoil. Adichie focuses on three characters involved in Biafra’s attempt to become an independent country in the late 1960s and the horrifying civil war with Nigeria that followed. This is [an] epic novel of dashed hopes and terrible consequences.”
–John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Are we ready for a novel about an imploding nation riven by religious strife and bloody wrangling over who controls the military, the civil service, the oil; a novel about looting, roadside bombs, killings and reprisal killings, set against a backdrop of meddling foreign powers? A novel in which once-colonized peoples chafe against the nonsensical national boundaries that bind them together, in which citizens abandoned on the highways of fear must choose between a volatile federation and the destabilizing partition? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s second novel takes place not in the deserts of contemporary Iraq but in the forests of southeastern Nigeria–40 years ago, [before and during] the three-year Biafran War that saw Muslim-dominated forces from the north laying siege to the Christian Igbo of the south . . . At once historical and eerily current, Half of a Yellow Sun honors the memory of [that] war. Adichie’s prose thrums with life. Like Nadine Gordimer, she likes to position her characters at crossroads where public and private allegiances threaten to collide. Both Half of a Yellow Sun and Adichie’s first novel explore the gap between the public performances of male heroes and their private irresponsibilities. And both novels shrewdly observe the women–the wives, the daughters–left dangling over that chasm . . . . Adichie approaches her country’s past violence with a blend of distance and familial obsession. This tug of detachment and intimacy gives Half of a Yellow Sun an empathetic tone that never succumbs to simplifying impulses, heroic or demonic . . . . Reaching deep, [Half of a Yellow Sun] takes us inside ordinary lives laid waste by the all too ordinary unraveling of nation states. It speaks through history to our war-racked age not through abstract analogy but through the energy of vibrant detail, [and] a mastery of small things.”
–Rob Nixon, The New York Times Book Review
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, takes place in her native Nigeria during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when civil war erupted as the eastern state of Biafra attempted to break away and was then forced into submission . . . [Adichie] writes about these events with deep feeling and unflinching vividness . . . . [Half of a Yellow Sun] begins as a kind of social comedy and doesn’t darken until the war breaks out.”
–Charles McGrath, The New York Times
“A sweeping story that provides both a harrowing history lesson and an engagingly human narrative . . . Adichie shifts points of view among the central characters, keeping their stories always in the foreground. She also alternates between the pre-war and war years, wrapping the emerging political conflict in a rich and involving drama . . . Adichie puts a powerfully human face on this sobering story, which is far from over. Tensions in the former Biafra continue to simmer.”
–Mary Brennan, The Seattle Times
“A stealthy and subtle piece of work . . . destined to become a classic. What gives this book permanence is not just the story of the secession of southeastern Nigeria and the formation of the brief and brutally conquered state of Biafra (a conflict that claimed more than 1 million lives). It is not even the aptness of Adichie’s characters, each of whom represents an aspect of the nation and of the human psyche. What will keep this book on the shelves and in the classroom for years to come is simply Adichie’s storytelling, which like all really great writing, manages to be vivid and invisible at the same time . . . . The characters may scream, but the author never does, and so that scream echoes in our heads. It is the kind of sound that resonates in its silence, and it can only be created through a deft use of words and story. This book confirms the notion that if you want to understand a country’s soul, read its fiction.”
–Emily Carter Roiphe, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As one reads Adichie’s lyrical descriptions, it becomes clear why she is recognized as a promising new voice in literature. From the opening page, the reader is transported to a world so strongly imaged as to feel like a painting.”
–Caroline Hallsworth, Library Journal
“Instantly enthralling . . . vivid . . . powerful . . . a major leap forward from [Adichie’s] impressive debut . . . Ms. Adichie weaves [her] characters into a finely wrought, inescapable web . . . She expands expertly and inexorably on early scenes [and] the many-faceted Half of a Yellow Sun soon develops a panoramic span. Taking its title from an emblem on the flag of Biafra, the book sustains an intimate focus and an epic backdrop. [But] Half of a Yellow Sun is not a conventional war story any more than is A Farewell to Arms or For Whom the Bell Tolls. (Though the Nigerian-born Ms. Adichie has been compared mostly to African writers, she warrants many different comparisons.) . . . . Adichie is knowing about intimate, complicated interracial relationships [and] she artfully presents the jockeying between Richard [a British character] and a swaggering Nigerian military officer . . . The delicate balance among tribal groups, which breaks down as secession and war approach, is made especially clear . . . Ms. Adichie describes these tribal distinctions with a strong, graceful touch. Although there is nothing ostentatiously writerly about the straightforward style of Half of a Yellow Sun, Ms. Adichie can make a large, resonant gesture when need be.”
–Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Before Darfur, before Rwanda, there was Biafra. Adichie’s powerful second novel retells the shocking story of the ethnic cleansing and mass starvation in this breakaway territory of Nigeria in 1967–one of the first of Africa’s genocidal tragedies broadcast live in the West yet shamefully neglected there. A Nigerian, Adichie creates memorable characters torn between modern privilege and tribal ties . . . Masterfully, Adichie dissects their reactions as barbarism disrupts their bourgeois comfort and they struggle for survival.”
–Lee Aitken, People magazine (four stars)
“Ingenious . . . This superbly talented writer has tackled a broad, ambitious subject: the civil war that took place [in Nigeria] in the decade before her birth. Between her extensive readings and her family’s memories of these events, Adichie clearly has the background and understanding to write such a novel. What’s more, she has also found a way of engaging this large subject on the personal level by portraying it vividly and poignantly through the eyes of well-crafted characters . . . . Gentle, forbearing and sensitive, [the character] Olanna serves as a kind of touchstone throughout the novel. [Readers] will acutely feel her pain–along with her enduring capacity for compassion, indignation and love . . . . [Along] with making a powerful case against Britain’s bad stewardship [of Nigeria], Adichie’s novel also explores the depth and stubbornness of ethnic prejudices among Africans: not only Muslims versus Christians, but even among members of the same group who come from different classes, different villages, or even different families. Although Adichie sharply depicts the dreadful pettiness that’s all too often part of human nature, she never loses sight of our capacity to rise above such limitations. She deftly chronicles the wrenching experiences of her characters. [With] searching insight, compassion and an unexpected yet utterly appropriate touch of wit, Adichie has created an extraordinary book, a worthy addition to the world’s great tradition of large-visioned, powerfully realistic novels.”
–Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times
“Searing, beautifully written . . . What makes [Half of a Yellow Sun] so deeply compelling and involving are [Adichie’s] powers of empathy and imagination. She creates memorably distinctive characters and shows how the horrors of persecution, massacre, starvation and war affect their lives. Indeed, she tells the story by alternating among the views of the three characters whose different backgrounds and personalities provide a strong sense of the country’s diversity . . . . It is this kind of unflinching insight into her nation and its peoples that makes Half of a Yellow Sun a profoundly humanistic work of literature that bears comparison with the best fiction of Nigeria and, indeed, the entire African continent.”
–Martin Rubin, San Francisco Chronicle
“A young writer lives up to the hype with a buzzworthy new novel . . . Adichie masterfully illuminates the bloody 1967 Nigerian civil war, when Biafra attempted to form its own republic. Adichie’s stirring narrative gives us an intimate view of the battle’s impact . . . [She] hopes that Half of a Yellow Sun will do justice to the memory of those who perished in the civil war, and that it will also make her family proud. ‘I was afraid to fail them with this book,’ she confesses. Trust us, she doesn’t . . . . Get ready to hear and see the name Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”
“Adichie surpasses her award-winning debut, Purple Hibiscus, with a magnificent novel in which the dreams and tragedies of 1960s Nigeria are filtered through the minds and experiences of stupendously compelling characters. From page 1, an unbreakable bond is forged between the reader and Ugwu, a teen who has left his barebones village to serve as houseboy to a radical professor full of hope for newly independent Nigeria . . . . The momentous psychological and ethical pressures Adichie engineers could support an engrossing novel in their own right, but her great subject is Nigeria’s horrific civil war, specifically the fate of Biafra, the doomed breakaway Igbo state. ‘Half of a yellow sun’ is Biafra’s emblem of hope, but the horrors and misery Adichie’s characters endure transform the promising image of a rising sun into that of a sun setting over a blood-soaked and starving land. Adichie has masterminded a commanding, sensitive epic about a vicious civil war that, for all its particular nightmares, parallels every war predicated by prejudice and stoked by outside powers hungry for oil and influence.”
–Donna Seaman, Booklist, starred, boxed review
“Absorbing . . . I couldn’t put the book down . . . Half of a Yellow Sun, the follow-up to the Orange-listed Purple Hibiscus, might have been written in the 19th century . . . . As she showed in Purple Hibiscus, Adichie’s big theme is the robustness of the human spirit . . . The characters are put through the emotional wringer . . . but though we know they’ve suffered lasting damage, we also know that in the long run they’ll be fine. [A] leap forward in the career of a very talented writer.”
–Stephen Thompson, The Scotsman
“An immense achievement . . . [Adichie] writes in the tradition of Nigeria’s great novelist [Chinua Achebe]. [But] nothing is falling apart for Adichie: everything is coming together. [Half of a Yellow Sun] has a ramshackle freedom and exuberant ambition . . . . Reading this novel is as close as you can get to the terrifying experience of being at war . . . . Yet the narrative remains warm and as full-figured as its curvy heroine, Olanna. No matter how dire the circumstances, censure is not Adichie’s thing. She leaves the judging to us . . . . She sees with a loving but undeceived eye . . . She has a sure satirical edge . . . . She never loses track of the personal. As well as freshly recreating this nightmarish chapter in her country's history, she writes about the slow process by which love, if strong enough, may overcome. [In this novel, the] foreign becomes familiar, a distant war comes close, a particular story seems universal.”
–The Observer (UK)
“A welcome addition to the corpus of African letters . . . . Adichie squarely confronts Nigeria’s political history in order to explode presumably stable notions such as nationalism, race, ethnic identity, truth, heroism and betrayal . . . . She [revisits] the theme of nationalist struggle in ways that are reminiscent of canonical African novels . . . . Half of a Yellow Sun strikes one as a fresh examination of the ravages of war [because] of Adichie’s poignant handling of human emotions, in a range of circumstances from romance to conflict.”
–Joyce W. Nyairo, Times Literary Supplement
“Brilliant . . . A stunning sophomore effort by an award-winning young Nigerian novelist [who] fashions a timeless memorial out of an ephemeral postcolonial conflict . . . It is hard to do justice to this book’s achievement. Anchoring the narrative in the doomed Biafran war of secession in 1960s Nigeria, Adichie entwines love and politics to a degree rarely achieved by novelists . . . [She] describes the whirl [of postcolonial chaos] with a generosity to her characters that seems handed down from Charles Dickens . . . . Novelists interested in history tend to depict their characters as the innocent victims of larger forces, the spindrift of impersonal waves. Adichie shows how history’s victims can also be the perpetrators of its excesses. The prose is admirable, but we’re not meant to admire it. We’re meant to stare through the glass until it disappears, for Adichie possesses a nineteenth-century confidence in the sufficiencies of traditional narrative, a belief that thrives today mostly in the literature of the former British colonies, whereby the straightforward rendering of lives in time yields historical weight and volume. As The Iliad came to displace the realities of the Trojan War . . . so shall Half of a Yellow Sun subsume the history upon which it is based. That is what great fiction does–it simultaneously devours and ennobles, and it is freely acknowledged invention comes to be truer than the facts upon which it is built.”
–Will Blythe, Elle Magazine
“Profoundly gripping . . .When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie . . . .Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing.”
–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. Her experimentation with the dual mandate of English and Igbo in perennial discourse is a case in point. Timid and less competent writers would avoid the complication altogether, but Adichie embraces it because her story needs it. She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria's civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.”
“Astonishing . . . fierce and beautifully written. Chimamanda continues to lead us from the front with her powerful new book. So much of the experience of our generation of Africans is about how we find ourselves reacting to our times based on wars and battles and events that we know little about, but which continue to define us. We need to take control of our history, so we can manage our present. And it is this idea that is the inspiration behind this novel . . . . Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human, always loving . . . . It is a pleasure to read Chimamanda’s crisp, resonant prose. We see how every person's belonging is contested in a new nation; find out that nobility of purpose has no currency in this contest; how powerfully we can love; how easily we can kill; how human we can be when a war dedicates itself to stripping our humanity from us. Half of a Yellow Sun is ambitious, impeccably researched . . . Penetrating . . . epic and confident. Adichie refuses to look away.”
–Binyavanga Wainaina, author of Discovering Home, founder of the journal Kwani, and winner of The Caine Prize for African Writing
“This, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s second novel, deserves to be nominated for the Booker prize. What is so memorable and accomplished about Half of a Yellow Sun is that political events are never dryly recited; rather they are felt through the medium of lived lives, of actual aching sensitive experiences. To my knowledge it is unusual for a young woman author to capture with such precision and verisimilitude the feelings of a man, but Ugwu is a totally realized character–ambitious, devoted, sexual, scholarly, courageous, uncomplaining, resourceful and intuitive. These characteristics, easy to rattle off, are all dramatized and substantiated in this long and intricate but always compelling narrative. When I think of how many European and American writers rehash the themes of suburban adultery or unhappy childhood, I look with awe and envy at this young woman from Africa who is recording the history of her country. She is fortunate–and we, her readers, are even luckier.”
“Vividly written, thrumming with life, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel. In its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture, this novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River.”
–Joyce Carol Oates --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
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Etant donné ce contexte historique j'ai un peu de mal à commenter et surtout à noter ce roman. On ne peut pas dire assez le rôle important de la littérature dans le devoir de mémoire mais en tant que roman "Half of a Yellow Sun" n'est pas parfait. Ms. Adiche a crée un personnage inoubliable, remarquablement riche et complexe, dans Ugwa, le boy arrivé tout droit de sa brousse pour travailler chez le professeur Odenigbo; on vit avec lui la tragédie de son ethnie les Igbos. Les autres personnages masculins sont nettement moins réussis; la psychologie de ce professeur, intellectuel et leader politique n'est pas assez travaillée et pour moi le journaliste britannique Richard, passionné par la culture Igbo, reste flou. Malheureusement, Ms Adichie tombe également dans les caricatures , surtout quand vers la fin du roman elle nous montre deux journalistes américains accueillis par leur collègue anglais.
L'Afrique, le Moyen Orient, les Balkans, etc. -- la liste est longue en ce qui concerne les horreurs de la guerre et ce roman est là pour nous les rappeler.
La construction est bien faite, le récit bien mené , on ne lâche pas le roman , et même plus , on le recommande.
A beautiful book and a real achievement as the characters, the plot and the historical background mingle in a fantastic narrative. I hadn't read anything nearly so powerful in a very long time.
Un livre très intéressant même si j'ai trouvé la dernière partie du livre un peu longue.
This story of the poor Ugwu leaving the life he had known in his home village to work as a house help in Enugu, where he got trapped in the world of educated and refined people whose worlds and past mirror the complexities of Nigeria before, during and after the civil. The writing makes understanding the civil war a lot easier, and gives an insight of the various ethnicities (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani), especially the major ones, whose squabbling and shortsightedness plunged the land into so much misery that it is yet to fully recover from.
The story spans four decades and tells a story of Nigeria that is exemplary. It comes with Disciples of Fortune, and Things Fall Apart as novels I enjoyed this year. Stories that provide an insight into African life in this manner win my heart deeply.
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Fabulous book, very complete narration of the characters, deep analysis if the Country soin vérité the indépendance.
Gréât Work. Lire la suite
Passionant du début a la fin. Pour ceux qui aiment voyager à travers la literature . Le Nigéria et les États unis racontée par une femme... Lire la suitePublié il y a 12 mois par Esther Brito Gonzalez
A wonderful trip to the heart of Africa with colorful and amusing characters. I am only halfway through the book and enjoying it very muchPublié il y a 15 mois par coline harrop
nigériane d'origine, entre autres , elle a adoré ce livre.
un livre à avoir dans sa bibliothèque ! ! !
I learned a lot about the history of Nigeria from this beautifully written book. Wonderfully detailed in its descriptions of everyday life in the country before and during its... Lire la suitePublié il y a 22 mois par Fly
C'était pour offrir car je lis très mal l'anglais.le livre était un peu vieux mais ce n'est pas grave. merciPublié le 13 janvier 2014 par ducreux