When it was released in 2006, it stole our hearts - and now nearly 10 years later, Half of a Yellow Sun has been named the ‘Best of the Best’ of the second decade of The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Inspiring author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was awarded the accolade last night by novelist and co-founder of the prize, Kate Mosse, live on stage at London’s Piccadilly Theatre in a celebration of the award’s 20th anniversary.
Half of a Yellow Sun is set in 1960s Nigeria, where the country, blighted by civil war, sees Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, Olanna, a privileged young woman and Richard, an English writer, thrown together and torn apart as the war increasingly encroaches on their lives.
Adichie grew up in Nigeria, and was internationally lauded for the novel, with author Muriel Gray saying: ‘While it’s sometimes pompous to call a book ‘important’, it’s appropriate to say it of Half of a Yellow Sun.
‘For an author, so young at the time of writing, to have been able to tell a tale of such enormous scale in terms of human suffering and the consequences of hatred and division, whilst also gripping the reader with wholly convincing characters and spell binding plot, is an astonishing feat.’
Adichie follows in the footsteps of Andrea Levy, who won the prize for the first decade for her novel Small Island.
Adichie said: ‘This is a prize I have a lot of respect and admiration for. Over the years it’s brought wonderful literature to a wide readership that might not have found many of the books.
‘I have a lot of respect for the books that have won in the past ten years and also for the books that have been shortlisted – I feel I am in very good company. To be selected as ‘Best of the Best’ of the past decade is such an honour. I’m very grateful and very happy.’
See Adichie talk about her novel in the clip below…
2006 – On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Chair, Martha Kearney)
2007 – Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Chair, Muriel Gray)
2008 – The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Chair, Kirsty Lang)
2009 – Home by Marilynne Robinson (Chair, Fi Glover)
2010 – The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (Chair, Daisy Goodwin)
2011 – The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht (Chair, Bettany Hughes)
2012 – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Chair, Joanna Trollope OBE)
2013 – May We Be Forgiven by A. M Homes (Chair, Miranda Richardson)
2014 – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Chair, Helen Fraser)
2015 – How to be Both by Ali Smith (Chair, Shami Chakrabarti CBE)