cover image Aya of Yop City

Aya of Yop City

Marguerite Abouet, Clement Oubrerie, . . Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 (106pp) ISBN 978-1-897299-41-8

Abouet and Oubrerie's sequel to their 2007 graphic novel Aya is a charming comedy of manners about a group of young women—a sort of Jane Austen scenario transplanted to the Ivory Coast of the late '70s. Aya's friend Adjoua has a new baby, and everybody's pitching in to help take care of him, although he looks rather less like the purported father than like an irresponsible bounder by the name of Mamadou. Meanwhile, their starry-eyed friend, Bintou, is plunging into a new romance with a man whose urbane extravagance blinds her to his sneakiness. Mostly, though, this volume is about the cheerful, communitarian spirit of the place and time it sketches out—a moment of postcolonial African history when people didn't have a lot of resources (Adjoua is entering a beauty contest in the hopes of winning cooking oil for the fritters she sells), but had high hopes for the future. Oubrerie's scrappy, witty pen-and-ink artwork is a small delight: everybody's got exaggerated but subtly expressive body language and facial expressions, and the story's dashed-off but dead-on settings—with traffic blocked by wandering sheep and tin roofs near ambitious office buildings—make its tone of historical transition between tradition and modernization even more vivid. (Sept.)