Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie

Set in 1970s Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, often referred to as the “Paris of West Africa”, the book is about the story of the youngsters Aya and her friends. I loved how I got a glimpse of daily life and culture in such place. There are very few graphic novels set in “exotic” places that I know of. The illustration of Aya is alive and vibrant, the book gently humorous. Great read.

4 stars
2006, 132pp

First line
1978 was the year that Ivory Coast, my beautiful country, got to see its first television ad campaign.

Winner of the best first book at the International Comics Festival, Angouleme, 2006

At the end of the book there are some tidbits of information with pictures about their piece of clothing (e.g. pagne (pa-nye) is a piece of brightly colored, wax-printed cloth. Every pattern has a meaning so you need to watch what you wear.), drink (Gnamankoudji, known as ginger juice), and there’s even a recipe! I would really like to try making their African peanut sauce (which is more like stew). A lot of Indonesian food has peanut or peanut sauce, so it’ll be interesting to try this one.

Peanut Sauce recipe

2 lbs beef (or 1 free range chicken)
4 large tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
2 large onions
1/4 lb jar of unsweetened peanut butter
1 hot pepper
2 maggi cubes

Trim and cube the meat. Dice 1 onion. Brown the meat and onion in a heavy pot, add a bit of salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
When all liquid has evaporated, add 4 tomatoes, cut into quarters, the second onion, cut in half, and a can of tomato paste.
After 10 mins, add water to cover the meat. Stir in the peanut butter, a pinch of salt and the hot pepper (don’t slice or crush – the pepper is meant to perfume the sauce). Remove the pepper after a while (serve it separately for people who like their food spicy), cover and simmer for half an hour.
After the 30 mins, remove the tomatoes and onions, blend them in a food processor and return to the sauce. Add a maggi cube. Top off with enough water to barely cover the meat. Place a lid on the pot and simmer for another 30 mins.
When a film of oil appears on the surface of your sauce it’s done.
Skim off the oil if you like and season to taste. Add the second maggi cube. Your sauce should be rich and flavorful. Serve with rice.

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2 thoughts on “Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie”

  1. John Michael Cummings says:
    5 January 2012 at 11:11 am

    re: book review request by award-winning author

    Dear Bookie Mee:

    I’m an award-winning author with a new book of fiction out last month.
    Ugly To Start With is a series of thirteen interrelated stories about
    adolescence published by West Virginia University Press.

    All the stories in my collection have been previously published in
    well-regarded print and online literary magazines such as The Iowa
    Review, Passager, The Bitter Oleander, Confrontation, Salt River
    Review, The Foliate Oak. and The Cortland Review.

    Can I interest you in reviewing it?

    If you write me back at johnmcummings@aol.com, I can email you a PDF of my book. If you require a bound copy, please ask, and I will forward your reply to my publisher. Or you can write directly to Abby Freeland at:


    My publisher, I should add, can also offer your readers a free excerpt of my book through a link from your blog to my publisher’s website:

    Here’s what Jacob Appel, celebrated author of
    Dyads and The Vermin Episode, says about my new collection: “In Ugly to Start With, set in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Cummings tackles the challenges of boyhood adventure and family conflict in a taut, crystalline style that captures the triumphs and tribulations of small-town life. He has a gift for transcending the particular experiences to his characters to capture the universal truths of human affection and suffering–emotional truths that the members of his audience will recognize from their own experiences of childhood and adolescence.”

    My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story “The Scratchboard Project” received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

    I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY.

    For more information about me, please visit:

    Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


    John Michael Cummings
    Lu says:
    7 January 2012 at 7:21 pm

    It’s been so long since you posted! I miss you. That Peanut Sauce looks delicious. I used to not like peanut sauce, but I’ve grown up a little bit and now I like them. I hope you had a happy new year!

    mee says:
    20 January 2012 at 11:30 pm

    hi Lu! Thanks for dropping a message. I just came back from a month long trip around Europe, so have not got a chance to reply. A bit late, but hope you had a happy new year too! I love love peanut sauce, as I grew up with it. Indonesian food uses peanut sauce in lots of cooking. Anyway, as you said, I haven’t posted for a while, and I’m not sure yet what to do with this blog..

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