This is historical fiction, the history of Nigeria in the 1960's, written in a fictional context.
Very upsetting look at the attempt of Southern Nigeria to become their own country of Biafra after the Muslim Hausa people of Northern Nigeria commit massacres of the Igbo people in the south.
At the point of the massacres I quit reading this book, and any book, for an unprecedented three days. I thought if I want to read about Muslims raping, beheading, beating, hacking to death people I can just open my newspaper. For Nigeria in particular I can look at Boko Haram. That is the extremist group operating in Nigeria currently. They are daily raping, kidnapping and hacking people to death. But they are interchangeable with all the other jihadist groups: ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah etc. Go ahead and take a look at the list of Muslim terrorist organizations, it is huge. And they are operating in most countries of the world at the moment.
I don't absolve Britain of complicity in what happened in Nigeria in the 1960's. Who the hell supplies all the high tech weapons to these terrorists so they can slaughter people who don't agree with them. I also understand American complicity even if only doing nothing. Obviously we did not care to pick a war with Britain. But this supplying weapons and supporting terrorists is incredibly criminal. What are we hoping? That all the indigenous peoples will be slaughtered if we supply both sides with weapons and then we can take all the riches? But why does this author lump Palestine in with places where innocents are being slaughtered? So wrong. The people running "Palestine" (another false entity created by Britain) are Muslim terrorists! They daily try to kill Israelis while Israel tries to help Muslim civilians caught in the middle. Am I going to get a lot of hate mail and angry tirades for saying so? Probably. So be it.
As you can see, every nerve ending was grated upon and I was angry, disgusted and sick. I hate reading about war. And nothing good seems to ever happen in Africa. Give me good news out of Africa, I know there must be some.
The book is well-written and heartbreaking. She includes pictures from Biafra in the late sixties. Babies with their swollen bellies and stick limbs. How can you not cry?? It is the worst thing, a forced starvation of people to "unite" Nigeria. F that!
She also has a secondary line of story in the relationships of Odenigbo and Olanna, and Olanna's twin Kainene and her white lover Richard. Adultery and its destructive force, and how in comparison to war and starvation, it pales. Adultery is another subject I detest and find very depressing.
This book came to me from another bookcrosser. I didn’t know anything about the Biafran conflict. I came out feeling as if I’d just lived through the experience. In the beginning of the book, I felt, “Why am I reading this?” and almost gave up. I decided to finish it for two reasons: it fits the 666 reading challenge and it was a 1001 book. I am glad that even though it was slow getting into and the story, based on fact, is horrifying, I decided to finish it.
Adichie writes about the failure of a new state trying to gain independence from Nigeria. She writes about a couple of love stories during war but I felt that she did not need to put in the complications that she did. I felt that is distracted from the story line and made me less sympatric to the characters. She did capture the dreams and hopes and vision of Biafra, so clearly that the reader can feel it.
Nigeria in the 1960s was a society entangled in ethnic troubles and then civil war. The genocide inflicted on the Igbo people is horrible and tragic. Through the war they suffered and starved, eventually bringing Biafra to its knees.
The book was too long and it slowed the pace of reading. I wanted the book to finish, partly because what happened to the people is so horrifying that it was difficult to read about. The long Muslim vs Christian war or battle has had a terrible effect on Nigeria. The fact that what happened with the Muslims killing Christians because they are Christians could have been taken from today’s headlines.
At the time I was reading this book, Nigeria was in the world news. First, Christians were being killed in the country. Second, the president of Nigeria was in the US meeting with our president. I thought it was a timely reading.
The length of the work is one of the few complaints I have. In Adichie’s obsessive need to create the world of Biafra as realistically for the reader as possible, her details can slow the pacing. This is an emotional novel, and she builds the emotions over time. Also, don’t be expecting to laugh – you barely will.
Will send to Perryfran as a surprise RABCK. It is on his wishlist.