‘A History of Darkness’: Exoticising Strategies and the Nigerian Civil War in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Since the publication of Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has become one of the most recognisable young writers of Anglophone African fiction. Due to the critical and commercial success of her novel, Adichie has made regular contributions to high-profile international publications and broadcasts. She has also received prestigious accolades such as the British Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 from the United States. Despite this success, there have been concerns that Half of a Yellow Sun risks adding to what Brenda Cooper calls ‘the figurative arsenal of Western misrepresentations of Africa’ (2008, p. 139). Cooper is here referring to the way in which the continent — particularly the sub-Saharan region — is characterised by Euro-American media as a place of unyielding poverty, violent conflict, medical epidemics (malaria and Aids), droughts, external economic over-dependency, and political corruption. Cooper’s concern that the novel connects with such representation is due to its historical subject matter: the Nigerian civil war of 1966–70, also known as the Biafran war. Born seven years after the conflict, Adichie explained that she ‘grew up in [its] shadow’ indeed, as Igbo Nigerians, Adichie’s immediate family were caught up in the conflict and both her grandfathers died in refugee camps during the war (Adichie, 2007, n.p.).
KeywordsChild Soldier Civil Conflict African Literature Gang Rape Historical Fiction
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