Saturday, December 09, 2006

I generally read about 2 books a week. When school is very intense, the reading is lighter, true escape. I like international settings, sometimes history, mostly adventure/crime drama, but I'm interested in noticing how the plot pacing goes, whether the characters are fully developed, and is the resolution satisfying or what themes is the author working with. Every once in awhile a book comes along that is unforgettable.

So now it's Saturday morning, just after Finals week, and the book I can't forget is Chimamanda Adichie's Half of a Yellow Moon. This compelling story is set during the Biafran-Nigerian war and essentially tells the story of two Nigerian sisters and their experiences during the war. This book is not a fast read or an easy read. The writing is skillful and doesn't lay out all the ideas on the surface of the story. Relationships are developed through events, betrayals and kindnesses -- recreating our humanity in horrendous circumstance. Our television accustoms us to the images of violence and death, but still in a way we are distanced. This can't happen to us. In Half of a Yellow Moon, we become part of the family, shocked and betrayed and comforted in the unrelenting reality of a brutal war. The parallels to other wars we may be thinking of, or of colonial history lessons, provide another layer to this book.

Chimamanda Adichie is young, born in 1977, from Nigeria's newest generation of writers, and already acclaimed as a successor to Chinue Achibe, author of Things Fall Apart, the widely read book that traces the transition from tribal to colonial Africa. She certainly speaks to me.