Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie (tr. Helge Dascher)

a nutshell: set in Côte d’Ivoire during its 1970s ‘belle époque’, this entertaining graphic novel wryly dips into the daily – and nightly – life of a community in Yopougon (aka Yop City), where it’s not just the young people getting up to mischief

a line: “there’s me, Aya, 19 years old, wondering why anyone would think of beer as a vitamin” 

an image: this time I have to comment not on words but on Clément’s brilliant illustrations which subtly amp up the comedy – e.g. a shotgun wedding scene where the bride & groom (each with a black eye from fuming loved ones) are told to “be fruitful and multiply”

a thought: the contrast between Aya’s aspirations and those of her friends is most striking when we overhear her attempt to raise the prospect of studying to be a doctor with her father, who redirects the focus on her finding a good husband – likewise her friends’ aim in life; Aya’s ambition is cast as an anomaly despite the decade’s optimism

a fact: the end comes with a few surprise treats – a glossary & recipes, as well as a guide on how to read a woman’s pagne (brightly coloured wax-printed cloth); apparently the saying goes, “you can always tell a woman by her pagne”


want to read Aya de Yopougon? visit here