Aya de Yopougon is back. Her story has enchanted readers around the world from her first album published 17 years ago. In 2022, this colorful Ivorian heroine is back, and it is as though she never left. A humorous and colorful graphic novel, which deals with conscientious subjects.
When Marguerite Abouet, who was born in Abidjan and emigrated to Paris at the age of twelve, created her first volume of Aya de Yopougon in 2005, she quickly found success with the award for best debut comic award at the 2006 Angoulême Festival and the book being Ministry of National Education’s (ministère de l'Éducation nationale) recommended title… everyone was delighted with this African author’s first graphic novel and its wonderful, contemporary and joyful way of depicting authentic Africa, without any misery or condescension… "This is completely normal, because Aya is a slightly autobiographical representation the Ivorian author", explains Sylvain Coissard, agent for Gallimard BD as well as other publishers.
Five other volumes quickly followed. The series has been translated into fifteen languages, including German, English (world), Spanish (world), Portuguese (Brazil), Azeri, Croatian, Norwegian, Swedish… and adapted into a successful animated feature film in 2013.
Then silence from Abidjan. Readers had to wait 12 years before Aya came back and with the same "resilience, sincerity, honesty and great moral strength as beforer", according to Sylvain Coissard.
A great comeback!
Aya, now a law student, tried to juggle an internship at Solibra, the company where her father works, and her complicated relationship with Didier, the handsome magistrate who is in love with her. But first and foremost, she is involved in the fight for students’ rights at the University of Cocody. This is also where Albert is, crammed into a tiny room with several other students, after having been turned away by his family because of his homosexuality. And that's nothing compared to the story of Inno from the Ivory Coast who has been exiled to Paris and is undocumented and then gets deported for participating in a demonstration for her rights. The girls also have to fight against prevailing sexist and misogynistic traditions, such as Bintou, Aya's friend, star of the series "Gâteuse de foyer", who is hated for stealing other people's husbands!
"A profound and completely exotic experience"
"It's clever, very alive, sensitive and very human, and written in a very poetic Ivorian voice", says the French daily Libération. The language is expertly riddled with African expressions and proverbs which make reading the works a "deep and completely exotic experience for a French readers (or readers from anywhere) without the situations feeling foreign," adds Le Figaro. "The unique lexicon," at the end of the book, "necessary, especially after such a long absence," and the art, full of humor and color by Clément Oubrerie, who started his remarkable comics career with the first volume of Aya de Yopougon, also add to the unique reading experience.
"The success of the series is very much due to its drama series style, with twists and turns and multiple intrigues. It's like a soap opera, yet more sophisticated. A benevolent, political, hectic comedy from the Ivory Coast: that’s something to get jazzed about! The return of Aya delighted the buyers I met in Frankfurt", adds Sylvain Coissard, who has already sold the rights to this seventh volume in Germany and Spain.