Traumatic Realism and the retrieval of Historical Value in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s postcolonial text Half of a Yellow Sun

Mustapha Kharoua


As a searing narrative which grapples with the trauma of the past, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) has managed to garner quite considerable critical acclaim. Acknowledging the nuances of documenting the violence inflicted upon the Igbo people in Nigeria in the 1967-1970 war, this postcolonial text convincingly rethinks the narrative of trauma beyond the event-based paradigm. Out of responsibility, its pressing demands for justice against the enduring effects of colonialism typify postcolonial trauma theory’s attempt at probing into the everyday suffering of African subjects. Reading Adichie’s text through Michael Rothberg’s notion “traumatic realism”, this article examines the novel’s attempt to both document the past and to implicate the Western reader. To resist objectification, the novel sets out to redirect the attention of the reader toward the “pogroms” committed on racial grounds. The main focus will be on Ugwu’s re-writing the enduring effects of colonial violence in post-generational terms and of blurring the boundaries between the extreme and the everyday.


trauma-realism-documentation-the public-commodification.

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