In the weekend’s Scotsman, Stephen Thompson enters the following assessment of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun: “Everything about the novel is conventional. The writing is conventional. The story is conventional. The subject matter – the destructive effect of colonialism on Africa and its peoples – is so conventional as to be clichéd. And yet I couldn’t put the book down.”
I suppose he does have a point. The ill effects of colonialism on African countries have receded so far into the distance, and things are just so positively hunky-dory across the entire continent, that the concerns of the characters in Half of a Yellow Sun — not to mention all the Nigerian conflicts of the 1960’s — really do seem terribly rote and 19th century.
Never mind Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Guardian comment, dated today: “Buildings fall down, pensions aren’t paid, politicians are murdered, riots are in the air … and yet I love Nigeria.” (Read Purple Hibiscus if you haven’t. I once stayed up all night to finish it.)