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.


Anonymous said...

Marie, I love stories about Africa.

Can you believe I've never read a graphic novel?

Is it necessary to read the first book or could I jump right in to Aya of Yop City?

Marie Cloutier said...

I think you could jump right into Aya of Yop City. :-)Let me know what you think! :-)

Ali said...

Marie, I'm in the process of signing up for the graphic novel challenge and wanted to let you know your blog was the first place I looked to find another book to fill out my list. I added the first Aya book and will probably read this one, too. Thanks!

Hey, when you get a chance, would you be willing to take a look at my graphic novels post on the Diversity Rocks! challenge and leave me a comment (either here or there) or email me at worducopia(at)gmail(dot)com if you think of some other recommendations by authors of color? No rush, I know you're busy with Tuesday Thingers today! Anytime between now and the end of the year would be lovely. Thanks!