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Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie
Drawn and Quarterly, February 2007
ISBN: 978-1-894937-90-0, ISBN10: 1-894937-90-2,
7 x 9 3/4 inches, 132 pages, Full Colr Illustrations Throughout,
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African Studies - All Titles
Graphic Fiction and Nonfiction
Graphic Fiction and Nonfiction - All Titles
Young Adult Literature
Ivory Coast, 1978. Family and friends gather at Aya’s house every evening to watch the country’s first television ad campaign promoting the fortifying effects of Solibra, “the strong man’s beer.” It’s a golden time, and the nation, too—an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa—seems fueled by prosperity and promise.
Who’s to know that the Ivorian miracle is nearing its end? In the sun-warmed streets of working-class Yopougon, aka Yop City, holidays are around the corner, the open-air bars and discos are starting to fill up, and trouble of a different kind is about to raise eyebrows. At night, an empty table in the market square under the stars is all the privacy young lovers can hope for, and what happens there is soon everybody’s business.
tells the story of its nineteen-year-old heroine, the studious and clear-sighted Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It’s a breezy and wryly funny account of the desire for joy and freedom, and of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City.
An unpretentious and gently humorous story that captures an Africa we rarely see—spirited, hopeful, and resilient—
won the 2006 award for Best First Album at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Clément Oubrerie’s warm colors and energetic, playful lines connect expressively with Marguerite Abouet’s vibrant writing.
"Studious Aya and her flighty party-girl friends, Adjoua and Bintou, live in suburban Ivory Coast in 1978. Aya hopes to continue her studies and become a doctor, while her father, a manager at a local brewery, would rather see her marry well. Unfortunately, the mate he has in mind for her, the son of his boss, is an even bigger partier than Bintou and Adjoua—as all will soon find out. Aya is actually more observer than participant—most of the action revolves around the peripheral characters—although she is often an instigator. This realistic story immerses readers in the life of an Ivorian teen of the period. Yet for those familiar with the civil unrest occurring in this part of Africa during the ensuing years, the simplicity of life depicted can't help but be extra poignant; the subplot of one teen's unplanned pregnancy has universal elements. Oubrerie's images are comic and light, somewhat reminiscent of Joann Sfar's, who edited this collection when it was first published in France. There is also some fun back matter, including a glossary, how to wrap a
(skirt cloth), and a few recipes. This pleasing volume will make a good addition to graphic-novel collections."—
Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, Maryland,
is set in the 1970s in the Ivory Coast of Africa and features the antics of three girls: Aya, Adjoua and Bintou. Aya wants to be a doctor; her friends want to dance, flirt with boys and have a good time. Adjoua and Bintou party with Moussa, a twit with big ears and a silly haircut. Soon afterwards Bintou gets grounded for going dancing with her father's best friend, a man twice her age; they are caught red-handed by Bintou's father, who is at the same disco. Adjoua has her own problems: she gets pregnant, declares Moussa to be the father, and two weeks later we see their shotgun wedding, which features skunked beer, no cutlery and a bride and groom who are both sporting black eyes. Despite its light-hearted exterior, I found
to be rather sad. The world depicted in this graphic novel is a man's world; the only option the women have is to marry well. Afterwards, they are expected to stay at home and watch their husbands openly cheat on them. Moussa is not the father of Adjoua's baby, but she says that he is because his father is wealthy and he's considered a great catch. Aya—an intelligent woman who applies herself—is clearly an outsider here; she acts mainly as an observer.
contains adult situations and people talking about sex (no sex is shown, though there's lots of it) and is recommended for graphic novel collections that cater to high school students."—
"A young woman navigates shallow men, self-destructive friends and the newly erected class ladder in the prosperous city of Abidjan. The West African nation of the Ivory Coast won its independence from France in 1960, and thanks to agricultural development, it enjoyed a flourishing economy until the early '80s. This graphic novel by Abouet, an Ivory Coast native, and French artist Oubrerie, is set in 1978, as Aya, the 19-year-old heroine, becomes increasingly aware of how money is reshaping her family and friendships. Her father, a manager for a local beer company, takes pride in his car, TV set and other trappings of a steady paycheck; her friends Bintou and Adjoua are obsessed with landing a wealthy husband, and they have enough free time to pursue suitors at the disco; Aya, for her part, aspires to attend college and become a scientist. This is mainly a breezy, colorful snapshot of middle-class Ivory Coast life at the height of the country's boom years, in a tone that's underscored by Oubrerie's simple, loose and playful lines. And Abouet has imagined an appealing array of characters notable for their foibles, especially the imposing Mister Sissoko, the head of the beer company. (The TV show
is visitors' first reference point when entering his palatial estate, speaking of how closely the country took its cultural cues from the U.S.) A serious story is embedded in all this, though: Bintou and Adjoua both battle for the attentions of Sissoko's son, Moussa, and when Adjoua becomes pregnant, the ensuing pages spark some interesting observations about the country's class distinctions and the urge to save face . . . The appendix, with a glossary, recipes and notes on native clothing, is a nice touch. A smart and sweetly comic glimpse of a time and place in Africa that get little attention in the West."—
"Abouet could have just wanted to tell a sweet, simple story of the Ivory Coast of her childhood as a counterpoint to the grim tide of catastrophic news, which is all most Westerners know of Africa. But in
, Abouet, along with Parisian artist Oubrerie, does quite a bit more than that, spinning a multifaceted romantic comedy that would satisfy even without any political agenda behind it . . .
follows the travails of some teenage girls in the peaceful Abidjan working-class neighborhood of Yopougon (which they call 'Yop City, like something out of an American movie'), as they strive for love and the right boyfriend. Yop City, as detailed in Oubrerie's fluid and cartoonish black and white drawings, is a mellow place where disco rules the night and practically the worst thing these girls have to worry about is the disapproval of their parents—or in the case of the quiet title character, criticism from those who wish she were more boy-crazed and less focused on a career. It's . . . memorable in mood, capturing the country's brief flicker of postcolonial peaceful prosperity before descending into the modern maelstrom of corruption and violence we know only too well."—
About the Author(s)
was born in Abidjan in 1971. At the age of 12, she was sent with her older brother to study in France under the care of a great uncle.
, her first comic, taps into Abouet’s childhood memories of Ivory Coast in the 1970s. She now lives Paris.
was born in Paris in 1966. With over 40 children’s books to his credit, he is also co-founder of the 3-D animation studio, Station OMD. A drummer in a funk band in his spare time, he travels frequently, especially to Ivory Coast.
is Oubrerie’s first comic.
© 2014 Macmillan