I’ll be featuring a Read This! recommendation on Mondays going forward in addition to my Friday posts. The first one is the “Aya” series of graphic novels written by Marguerite Abouet, from the Ivory Coast but now living in suburban Paris, and illustrated by Clement Oubrerie of France. Only the first three, “Aya,” “Aya of Yop City,” and “Aya: The Secrets Come Out” have been translated into English. Beautifully drawn, the series depicts the lives of residents of Yopougon, a middle-class suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from the viewpoint of Aya, a studious teenager with a good sense of humor and her head on straight. The books include a glossary of Ivorian terms (deh!) as well as Ivorian recipes at the end.
It looks like Abouet and Oubrerie have collaborated on a total of six “Aya” books. I can’t wait for the last three to appear in translation; also very exciting is the report that an Aya movie is in production for 2011. Bookslut has an interview with Abouet from 2007, Wild River Review has another interview with her by Nigerian writer Angela Ajayi, and The Brown Bookshelf has another from just a few months ago.
Abouet founded the association “Des Livres Pour Tous”, which supports literacy education of children in disadvantaged districts in Africa.