Chimamanda is a figure who has acquired great international relevance thanks to her small works in support of the international feminist movement (works which, in my opinion, are no more than facile pamphlets for mass consumption).
However, she is essentially a narrative writer with a literary career that is turning her into a universal writer with a very prominent African component.
American critics have definitively crowned her as one of the most interesting voices in the English language thanks to “Americanah” by awarding her the National Critics’ Prize. A narrative in which she explores her crusade against single history in a drift that takes place on three continents.
Prior to this work he wrote: The Purple Flower (three novels and a book of short stories written in English); Half a Yellow Sun; Something Around Your Neck (stories are by Nigerians in the United States).
HALF A YELLOW SUN
Chimamanda lives in the USA, but she is Nigerian by birth, of Igbo tradition (one of the majority -but not representative- ethnic groups in the country).
This work: “Half a Yellow Sun”, a title taken from the coat of arms that was chosen at the time for the independence project of the Biafra region, with an Igbo majority, is set in the years leading up to the war for the independence of this region of Nigeria, which was finally lost, giving rise to a humanitarian catastrophe.
Throughout the pages “recreates the lives of three characters caught up in the turbulence of the decade: young Ugwu, a clerk in the house of a revolutionary-minded university professor; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful wife, who for love has abandoned her privileged life in Lagos to live in a dusty town; and Richard, a shy young Englishman who is in love with Olanna’s sister, a mysterious woman who refuses to commit herself to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance, the protagonists of this story must defend their beliefs and reaffirm their loyalties”.
While even J.M. Coetzee considers it an extraordinary novel, I have to say that while all of the above makes Chimamanda promising reading, my experience is that it is a sluggish text with no clear drift until well into the second half of the book that provides anything of interest to those of us who, like me, endlessly study all possible versions of contemporary African history.
It is possible that much of the blame for the story’s lack of substance lies with the translation, though that is not enough to call this work weak.
I have read her feminist pamphlets and I promise to read at least Americanah, and when I do I promise to do so without expectation.
That said, it does not detract from the recognition that anyone who undertakes the noble task of writing a book deserves.
Chimamanda returns to Lagos every summer to give writing workshops at the Farafina Fund, which she set up with her Nigerian publisher to promote reading and writing.