“Aya” Shows the Other Side of West African Life

It’s not every day you read or see something about Africa that’s not about war or famine. It’s rare to see African life depicted in a light-hearted manner, which is what writer Marguerite Abouet wanted to accomplish with her graphic novel series, Aya. The novels revolve around Aya, a bright-eyed 19-year-old, and her life with her family and friends on the Ivory Coast in the late ’70s. Loosely based on Abouet’s own upbringing, the comics are a hilarious account of everyday life for Aya and her friends, each novel showcasing a rare glimpse into West Africa, not as a place torn apart by war but as a region full of spirited, strong and resilient people.

Aya won the award for Best First Album at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in 2006, and the comic was recently adapted into an animated film, Aya of Yop City (Aya de Yopougon). For a preview of the comics, check out Drawn & Quarterly.

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