Adichie says bestseller helped recall painful past
By Cecile De Comarmond, AFPLAGOS -- Nigeria's Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the bestseller “Half of a Yellow Sun,” said writing a novel about the civil war that devastated her home region helped people connect with a past that most no longer discussed.
October 14, 2013, 12:13 am TWN
A month after the film based on “Half of a Yellow Sun” premiered, Adichie, 36, reflected on the impact of the book about Nigeria's 1967-1970 Biafra War, which left more than 1 million people dead after the writer's home southeastern region tried to secede.
“I have heard from many people who have read 'Half of a Yellow Sun' and said that the novel for them was an entry point into their history,” Adichie told AFP at the Lagos office of her Nigerian publisher.
She said her generation of Igbos, the majority ethnic group in the southeast, “grew up knowing that this terrible thing had happened and deeply affected our families,” but those who lived through the war did not talk about it.
“My mother would say 'I used to have this before the war' or my father talked a lot about his father, my grandfather, whom I never met because he died in 1969 in a refugee camp.”
“The war was always there. I knew 'agha.' Agha is war (in Igbo). There was always 'agha.' But I didn't know the details,” she said.
“I think this is what happens for a generation that experiences trauma, that usually, it's the next generation who can start to talk about it,” she continued.
“I don't think I could have written this book if I had lived in Biafra.”
The novel has sold 800,000 copies in English and has been translated into 35 other languages.
As for the film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 8, Adichie said she needed to stay away from the production “to preserve (her) sanity.”
“It's a book I am very proud of but it's also a book that has a lot of emotional meaning for me ... Every page of that book matters to me,” she said.