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Half of a yellow sun

Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in Nigeria in the 1960s. The book begins when Ugwu, an Igbo boy from a bush village, goes to Nsukka to work as a houseboy for Odenigbo, a professor and radical. Odenigbo is in love with Olanna, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Nigerian. Olanna moves in with Odenigbo and meets his friends, who argue about politics every night. Ugwu becomes an excellent cook and goes to school. Meanwhile Richard, a white Englishman in Nigeria, leaves his girlfriend Susan when he falls in love with Kainene, Olanna’s sardonic twin sister. Richard moves to Nsukka and befriends Odenigbo and Olanna. Odenigbo’s mother “Mama” visits and calls Olanna a witch, which upsets her greatly. Olanna and Odenigbo start trying to have a child.

The narrative jumps a few years ahead, when the Nigerian government is overthrown. The Northern Hausa blame the Igbo for the coup. There is then another coup, and this time many Igbo soldiers are killed. Olanna now has a child she calls “Baby,” and she takes her to Kano to visit her relatives. The violence against the Igbo becomes a pogrom, and Olanna’s relatives are brutally murdered. She escapes on a train to Nsukka and sees a woman carrying her daughter’s severed head in a basket. Meanwhile Richard watches Igbo civilians being murdered at the airport. Colonel Ojukwu, the Igbo leader, announces that Southeast Nigeria will secede and become the Republic of Biafra. All the characters are overjoyed at this.