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Aya Hardcover – February 20, 2007


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Hardcover, February 20, 2007
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Product Details

  • Series: Aya
  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; 1st Hardcover Ed edition (February 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894937902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894937900
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 Aya, 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. Set in 1970, Aya 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 a quick piece of work, but 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. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—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 pagne (skirt cloth), and a few recipes. This pleasing volume will make a good addition to graphic-novel collections.—Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Oubrerie's art compliments the text perfectly.
S. Young
Such an addictive read will have you going back for the second and third book in the series.
Jhay Phoenix
I think this book would be a great young adult and adult graphic novel/comic.
T. Denyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ms W on December 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I discovered the Aya series while in Paris. I don't speak French, but bought all three books because the illustrations are BEAUTIFUL. Clement Oubrerie's illustrations depict Africans in such a beautiful manner. I can make out the story via the illustrations and love it. I can't wait to purchase the English editions!!!!! Whether you purchase this book in French or English, you won't be disappointed. Lovely, just lovely.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel J. Moody on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Aya wonderfully captures the true look, feel, and...ENERGY!!! of an African city, in both its lighthearted storytelling and spot-on illustrations! The street scenes, the disco bars, and characters in their 70's duds is just sooooo perfect! Having lived on the Continent for 2 plus years, I go to this book when I want to be swept back there. If you have a love of Africa, or a love of simple storytelling, buy this book!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Wolinsky on January 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to see a serious graphic novel about Africa. But after reading it, I'm not sure why. I read the jacket info which is very clear; it says this story takes place in 1970's Ivory Coast, when the country was stable thanks to foreign investment. But it also states that the foreign investment would later disappear. Is this going to be a book about Africa before the "troubles"?
In a lot of ways, AYA is like a long stare at post-independence Ivory Coast. There's nothing terribly special about the story; you have some young women, going through the usual ups&downs of work, school, boyfriends, etc. You almost forget that this is the 1970's and their world would later be destroyed by civil war.
Perhaps AYA is really about nostalgia. It reminded me a little of the book "A TIME BEFORE CRACK" which documents early-1980's Harlem; a time when Harlem wasn't a good place to live, but wasn't yet ruined by crack.
AYA is like A TIME BEFORE CRACK. It's a serious story, not terribly unique or dynamic, but you know that whatever happiness the girls know will soon be over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read the first Aya book after several years of avoiding comics and really enjoyed it. The artwork was fresh, the story (though somewhat soap opera-ish) was enjoyable, and the world seemed familiar to Westerners yet distinctively African. I picked this sequel up after a few years of reading hundreds and hundreds of comic books and found it to be not at all what I was expecting it to be.

The artwork is ok but the story is just too slight to make up an entire book. Aya is an independent woman who isn't throwing her life away too early by becoming a single mother and then abandoning hope of a career or a life outside of Yop City. Commendable but then she doesn't really do much else but observe her friends and family doing the opposite. Her friend is pregnant - but who's the father? Her dad's having an affair! And that's about it. Some romantic misunderstandings and it feels very much like a comic book version of your average soap - slight, brainless, and ultimately a waste of time.

I wanted to like this series but having discovered a wealth of comic books available that offer far more substantial content, I've found that "Aya of Yop City" isn't one of them.

Better comic books: "Habibi" by Craig Thompson, "War Stories" by Garth Ennis, "Transmetropolitan" by Warren Ellis, "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken" by Seth, "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel, "Hark a Vagrant!" by Kate Beaton, "Paying for It" by Chester Brown.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading "Aya" was truly a unique experience for me. Having enjoyed the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman [Maus] and Marjane Satrapi [Persepolis], I was excited about "Aya", being the debut graphic novel by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. This book won the pair the 2006 award for Best First Album at the Angouleme International Comics Festival[originally published in French], and after reading it I can understand the accolades.

Set in 1978 in a working class neighborhood called Yop City in the Ivory Coast, the story revolves around a 19-year-old young woman named Aya,who differs from her friends in that her mind is not 100% occupied with boys and partying but ambition [she wants to be a doctor]. Her character in itself seems counter to the stereotypes that we are presented in many other stories about the countries in Africa - the poverty, the sense of a doomed future, AIDS etc. Not that these problems aren't real, but Aya is such a refreshing character for her optimism and belief that her ambition is achievable, even in the face of parental objection and peer pressure to just be a girl and have fun, and despite the fact that she lives in the Ivory Coast, a poor nation that is notorious for child labour and 'blood diamonds'.

The story is one that we can all identify with - about growing up and being happy with friends and family, of life in a neighborhood, of having dreams both small and big, and perhaps this is what both Abouet and Oubrerie wish to get across - that despite economic disparities and cultural differences, different issues and concerns, "we" [being the world at large] do share similarities, perhaps more than most of us are aware of.

Abouet's intelligent, and humorous writing is beautifully complemented by Oubrerie's use of vibrant colors and expressive drawings [especially the character's faces]. This is a wonderful collaboration and a promising one indeed. I can't wait for the sequel!
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