Photo by missbax used under a Creative Commons license.
Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie, Aya (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007).
A sweet graphic novel about three teenage girls in a working-class neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in the 1970s. Aya and her friends consider their prospects for boyfriends and the future. It’s a story that could be set anywhere, except that it very much is set in a particular time and place — the Yopougon (or “Yop City”) neighborhood. This is a mundane Africa — no wars or famine. Written by Abouet and wonderfully illustrated by her husband, Oubrerie, Aya comes with a brief glossary and a peanut chicken recipe that sounds delicious. There are sequels, too.
Here is Wikipedia’s page on Oubrerie. Their publisher provides these bios of Abouet and Oubrerie. Here is an excerpt. Elizabeth Chou says it’s a unique portrait of daily life in a working class African city in the 1970s. Eva says it cleverly describes what it was like to be a young girl in Cote D’Ivoire. Corinne calls it a fast and humorous book about the ups and downs of love and friendship. Betty’s mom says it’s a little gem. Gavin says it’s beautifully illustrated and fun to read. Marie likes Oubrerie’s charming, humorous style and the cute story. Dirk Deppey says the storytelling and art are masterful. Jessica Walker (World Literature Today) calls it a captivatingly quick read. Leroy Douresseaux says it’s simply a story of ordinary lives. Megan Milks sees a whimsical exploration of the class and gender politics of working-class Abidjan in 1978. Geoff Wisner says it captures the fun and optimism that filled Abidjan then. Juliet Waters calls it quirky and charming. Tom Spurgeon likes the soap opera tropes. Should it have been a graphic novel, thebooleyhouse wonders. Ali didn’t like it much. John L. Daniels Kr. gives it five stars. This sentence has fewer syllables than EM’s haiku review does. Publishers Weekly has the trade perspective. John Zuarino interviewed Abouet for Bookslut. And Angela Ajayi interviewed Abouet for the Wild River Review. Check out this Abidjan group on Flickr.