Tag-Archive for ◊ political science ◊

Author:
• Monday, September 28th, 2009

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria in 1977 from Igbo parents. She is the fifth of six siblings. Her father worked as first professor of statistics, then became a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka where her mother also worked as a first woman registrar.

After successfully completing her secondary education, Adichie briefly studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria. She obtained a scholarship to study communication at Drexel in Philadelphia for two years. Afterward she moved to Eastern Connecticut State University, to be near her sister who lived there and continued studying communication and political science.

She obtained a degree in 2001, which was complemented by a master degree in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She also obtained an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008. Adichie lives between Nigeria and the U.S.A. where she teaches creative writing.

Adichie has to date written three novels:
Purple Hibiscus, published in 2003 was short-listed for the 2004 Orange Fiction prize and long-listed for the Booker Prize. It was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for First Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
Half of a Yellow Sun was published in 2006 and was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.
The Thing Around Your Neck was published in June 2009.

She also participated with a short story in “One World: A global anthology…” which was published in May 2009.

The title of Half of a Yellow Sun refers to the Biafran flag emblem, a sun halfway through rising. The story is set in the 1960s in southeastern Nigeria. It is a fictitious story based on fact, before, during and briefly after the three-year Nigerian-Biafran war, which lasted from 1967 to 1970, between the Muslim Hausa-Fulani tribe from the north and the Christian Igbo tribe from the south east and also the Yoruba tribe: An armed conflict that was triggered due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions and due to the fragile balance and enmity between the different tribes.

The novel is divided into four parts, relating the events between the early and late sixties switching, in alternation, back and forth in time.

Olanna and Kainene, the Igbo privileged twin sisters, who come from a wealthy and powerful family, are obliged to survive through hardship and starvation. Although twins and well educated, they are very different in every way, not only in looks but also in mentality and in their life expectations. Olanna is an intellectual, while Kainene is a businesswoman, who successfully runs the family affairs.

The third main character, is Ugwu, the thirteen-year-old hard working, ambitious and highly intelligent houseboy, inspired in part by Mellitus, who was working as a houseboy for Adichie’s parents during the war. The other part was inspired by Fide, who was the houseboy when Adichie was growing up.

There is also the passionate, ideological professor Odenigbo, the maths lecturer at the university of Nsukka and Olanna’s partner, who becomes her husband later in the story. He is politically and radically minded, he holds an intellectual salon in his house with his colleagues, where they debate about the day to day problems Nigeria is facing and the post-colonial steps that should be taken.

The fifth character is the English expatriate writer, Richard Churchill who is Kainene’s lover. Richard loves the country, the culture and has the feeling of belonging to the Igbo tribe.

The story evolves around these five lively, interwoven, Igbo characters who are resilient to their fate and don’t convey any self pity.

Half of a Yellow Sun is a deeply moving novel with many themes : The African culture, the Biafran war with its violence, harshness, famine and oppression. It also depicts dignity, love, hatred, tribal loyalty and ethnic allegiance, but also human failure and hope among family members.

Through her innate gift as a storyteller, her compassion and her four-year effort of searching and writing the book that she always wanted to write, Adichie succeeds in producing Half of a Yellow Sun in memory of her grand-parents, whom she never saw and who died during the war, before she was born.

In her novel, Adichie takes her readers to an emotionally haunting, heartfelt and profound scenes of the sixties in a complex Nigeria, which had to suffer a brutal and savage civil war, like many other African countries are suffering even today. Adichie says in one of her interviews that : “many of the issues that led to the war remain unresolved today”.

The novel ends on a very poignant and sad note, the title of Ugwu’s written book about the Nigerian-Biafran war : “The World was Silent When We Died”.

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Author:
• Tuesday, June 09th, 2009

Cristina Garcia was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958. After Fidel Castro came to power in the early sixties, she moved with her parents to New York and following an early Catholic education, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1979 at Barnard College, at Columbia University. She later entered the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and in 1981 obtained a master’s degree in International Relations.

In the early eighties, Garcia worked for several publications: the Boston Globe for a short time, then United Press International, The Knoxville Journal in Tennessee and The New York Times. She was a correspondent at Time magazine in New York city in 1983 and also worked in San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

In 1990 Cristina Garcia decided to devote her time to writing fiction in order to highlight the life of Cuban immigrants in the United States. In 1984 she travelled to Cuba to meet her relatives for the first time and five years later her trip provided her with the incentive to start writing her first book, Dreaming in Cuban, published in 1992, followed by The Agüero Sisters published in 1997 and Monkey Hunting in 2003.

Cristina Garcia has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and the recipient of a Whiting writer’s award. In 1990 Garcia married Scott Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Pilar born in 1992. Garcia now lives with her daughter in Santa Monica.

The novel of The Agüero Sisters is made up of several family stories (with multiple narrators) interlaced with each other in the past and the present. It’s the rich complex story of Constancia and Reina Agüero, the two very different sisters, who were separated for thirty years.

Reina is forty eight years old, tall, dark and beautiful, liberated and a skilled master electrician,who supported the revolution and therefore remained in Havana. While her sister is the fifty one year-old Constancia, the pale, petite and conservative wife and business woman who immigrated with her husband to the United States after the Cuban revolution and adopted her new country’s culture.

What they both have in common is the intriguing, haunting and mysterious death of their mother and father, who both died many years ago, but whose memory still lives vividly with them after leaving them to inherit half truths, secrets and lies.

The author describes the Cuban landscape in detail, but not much detail is provided about Cuba before and after Fidel Castro took power. The novel mainly relates the lives of Cuban-Americans and the mysteries and myths that they carry with them and the beautiful American dream. There is also the uneasy relationship between children and parents and the hard-to-resolve question of identity.

Cristina Garcia is interested in emotional inheritance “and how those get played out subjectively in different times and places.” She said the beauty of being a novelist is that you can explore your obsessions at length.

Despite the jumps back and forth in time, the prologue gives us the main theme of the novel.

Although Garcia has an elegant style of writing and a fine description of characters, her plot is incomplete. She never reveals why Ignacio kills Blanca and two years later commits suicide. Nor has the author explained the reasons for Blanca’s disappearance and returning to her husband and child, heavily pregnant by another man, who remains anonymous throughout the book. The characters of Constancia and Reina’s daughters are neither fully developed nor do they contribute much to the story.

Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable, colourful book to read.