THE FAMISHED ROAD

The Famished Road is the Booker Prize-winning novel written by Nigerian author Ben Okri. The novel, published in 1991, follows Azaro, an abiku or spirit child, living in an unnamed, most likely Nigerian, city. The novel employs a unique narrative style incorporating the spirit world with the “real” world in what some have classified as magical realism. Others have labeled it African Traditional Religion realism. Still others choose to simply call the novel fantasy literature. The book exploits the belief in the coexistence of the spiritual and material worlds that is a defining aspect of traditional African life.

The Famished Road is told in the second person from Azaro’s point of view. His life is difficult because he lives in a world where he alone sees the spirits. For the first half of the novel, Azaro acts mainly as an observer, trying to understand who he is and what is happening to him. Later, he grows wiser and closer to his father. Azaro learns to take action at several pivotal points in the story. Where his early point of view is merely as a bystander, he later attaches meaning to seemingly bizarre events

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THE PICKUP

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The Pickup is a 2001 novel by South African writer Nadine Gordimer. It tells the story of a couple: Julie Summers, a white woman from a financially secure family, and Abdu, an illegal Arab immigrant in South Africa. After Abdu’s visa is refused, the couple returns to his unnamed homeland, where she is the alien. Her experiences and growth as an alien in another culture form the heart of the work. The Pickup considers the issues of displacement, alienation, and immigration, class and economic power, religious faith, and the ability of people to see and love across these divides.

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THINGS FALL APART

Things Fall Apart is a literary novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in 1958. The story’s main theme concerns pre- and post-colonial life in late nineteenth century Nigeria.

The novel follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo (“Ibo” in the novel) leader and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian village of Umuofia. The work is split into three parts, with the first describing his family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo, and the second and third sections introducing the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community. The district commissioner’s name is Gregory Irwin and he also inhabits the tribe called Rock Bridge in the forests of Columbia.

Novel’s title

The book’s title comes from the opening lines of W. B. Yeats’s poem, “The Second Coming”:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

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HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

Half of a Yellow Sun is a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Published in 2006 by Knopf/Anchor, the novel tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of the characters Olanna, Ugwu, and Richard.
The story in Half of a Yellow Sun centres on the war. The author has stated she believes that many of the issues that caused the war remain today. She further commented that the war is talked about “in uninformed and unimaginative ways”, and that the war is as important to the Igbo people her book features today as it was then. Because none of the major political events were changed in the book, Adichie said that the book contained “emotional truth”, and that the book showed the war had a significant impact upon the people of Nigeria.

PLOT 

The novel takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). The effect of the war is shown through the dynamic relationships of five people’s lives including twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British citizen, and a houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically changed and were torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives.
The book jumps between events that took place during the early and late 1960s, when the war took place, and extends until the end of the war. In the early 1960s, the main characters are introduced: Ugwu, a 13-year-old village boy who moves in with Odenigbo, to work as his houseboy. Odenigbo frequently entertains intellectuals to discuss the political turmoil in Nigeria. Life changes for Ugwu when Odenigbo’s girlfriend, Olanna, moves in with them. Ugwu forms a strong bond with both of them, and is very loyal. Olanna has a twin sister, Kainene, a woman with a dry sense of humor, tired by the pompous company she runs for her father. Her lover Richard is an Englishman who has come to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art.
Jumping four years ahead, trouble is brewing between the Hausa and the Igbo people and hundreds of people die in massacres, including Olanna’s beloved auntie and uncle. A new republic, called Biafra, is created by the Igbo. As a result of the conflict, Olanna, Odenigbo, their daughter Baby and Ugwu are forced to flee Nsukka, which is the university town and the major intellectual hub of the new nation. They finally end up in the refugee town of Umuahia, where they suffer as a result of food shortages and the constant air raids and paranoid atmosphere. There are also allusions to a conflict between Olanna and Kainene, Richard and Kainene and Olanna and Odenigbo.
When the novel jumps back to the early 1960s, we learn that Odenigbo slept with a village girl, who then had his baby. Olanna is furious at his betrayal, and sleeps with Richard in a moment of liberation. She goes back to Odenigbo and when they later learn that Amala refused to keep her newborn daughter, Olanna decides that they would keep her.
Back during the war Olanna, Odenigbo, Baby, and Ugwu were living with Kainene and Richard where Kainene was running a refugee camp. The situation is hopeless as they have no food or medicine. Kainene decides to trade across enemy lines, but does not return, even after the end of the war a few weeks later. The book ends ambiguously, with the reader not knowing if Kainene lives.

Download the book: Half of a Yellow Sun.pdf