Monday, September 15, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday: Aya of Yop City, by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie


Aya of Yop City, by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clement Oubrerie. Published by Drawn & Quarterly, 2008. Graphica. Fiction. Translated from the French by Helge Dascher.

Aya of Yop City is the charming sequel to Abouet and Clement's previous collaboration, Aya, which came out last year and I reviewed here. Both stories are set in Ivory Coast in the late 1970s, a relaxed time of peace and prosperty when a young girl's biggest concern was sneaking out to meet with her boyfriend or entering a beauty contest against the prettiest girl in town. The characters are a diverse mix of personalities- good girl Aya and her friends Adjoua and Bintou, their families and friends.

At the end of the first book, Adjoua just had a baby and inadvertently revealed that the father was not who she told her parents. The second book picks up right away, with Adjoua and her family and friends helping raise little Bobby while Aya tries to convince her father to take her seriously, and Bintou meets a Parisian playboy who charms her with fancy meals and hotels. The boys, Bintou's cousin Herve and Adjoua's exes Moussa and Mamadou, have adventures of their own as they navigate young adulthood with clumsiness and humor.

Aya of Yop City is even more charming and slapstick than the first book. I have to say I enjoyed this entry quite a bit. The action was a little easier to follow, and the characters split up and went on their own adventures even as they helped new mom Adjoua take care of her baby. Oubrerie's illustrations are identical to those in the first book, light hearted, colorful and expressive. Like the first Aya, this book includes some back matter about Ivorian culture- in this case, the way Abouet explains women and families come together to help new mothers and raise children as a community. Abouet even explains how to make the baby backpack shown on the cover. There is also an interview with Abouet included. It's a fun read, and if you liked the first, or enjoy stories about women, families or Africa, I'd reccomend it.