Friday, February 27, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: February 2015

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

Title: Aya
Writer: Marguerite Abouet
Artist: Clément Oubrerie
via Amazon
Aya is the first in a series of graphic novels about the writer's experiences growing up in Ivory Coast in the 1970s.  The '70s were a time of relative stability and optimism in West Africa, after independence but before the destructive horrors of civil war.  So, Aya doesn't dwell on the topics we've come to expect from African literature like war, famine and disease.  Instead, it offers a slice of life from a part of the world most of the rest of us know nothing about.

The titular character is a teenage girl, a bit older than the author herself would have been at the time.  She is sweet, responsible and ambitious but her friends just want to go out dancing with boys.  The main story of this first edition centers on one friend, Adjoua, who finds herself pregnant.  But who is the father?  In fact, the basic plot isn't specific to Africa at all - could just as easily take place in an American or European city.

Since the age of twelve, the author has lived in France, where the book was first published.  The illustrator is her husband, Clément Oubrerie.  The series - six volumes in all, four translated to English so far - has been very successful in France, even spawning an animated film.  I'm definitely interested in reading more.

Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month.  This month's link list is below.  I'll keep it open until the end of the day.  I'll post March's tomorrow.  Meetings are the last Friday of each month.  Next gathering is March 27th.

30 comments:

  1. What a wonderful way to highlight another place and time and it looks like a wonderful series.

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    1. The first book definitely shows promise - haven't read the others yet.

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  2. I love coming of age--and how timeless: inadvertent teen pregnancy.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Veronica

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  3. What a fascinating-looking read! Most of the modern African literature I'm reading these days is resolutely focused on middle-class life in Africa, avoiding, as this does, the stereotypes. It's nice to see a graphic novel following suit. Have you seen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk on stories? It seems relevant. http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en

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    1. My wife read Americanah recently. I'll have to check out the TED talk.

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  4. Some of those stories from Africa and other oppressed places are fascinating.

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  5. Sounds like a very interesting series of stories. Must look these up.
    Plus the illustrations are wonderful.
    The idea of a graphic novel, encouraging possible non readers to pick up this series delights me.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. And encourage them to learn about an unfamiliar part of the world, too.

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  6. Sounds interesting and I believe it was just up for an Oscar(animated short)

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    1. A different Aya. I thought it was the same at first, too, but no. The short film is an Israeli story.

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  7. Sounds interesting and it highlights the commonalities between cultures rather than just the differences.

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  8. This looks like a book I want to read. I love that it was a husband and wife effort.

    In general, I'm drawn to the books that speak lovingly of other cultures and societies. I get tired of hearing negative.

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    1. It's important to remember that most folks, no matter where, are just trying to live, to solve the same basic riddles of life we all face.

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  9. That looks very good. My daughter had me read a graphic novel about a young woman. I can't think of her name, but it was great.

    Love,
    Janie

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  10. I have never heard of Aya, but I love graphic novels. This one sounds really good and it is interesting that is based loosely on the author's own experiences. ~Jess

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  11. I know just the person who would love this book - thanks!

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  12. This looks like a really interesting book. I'm not a fan of graphic novels (nothing wrong with them, I just don't "get" them) but I wonder if I should give this one a look.

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    1. Yes, please read it and tell me what you think!

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  13. I've never really read a graphic novel--unless you count the "fotonovel" of Grease I insisted on having when I was a kid and obsessed with that movie. It had the entire movie in photos laid out like it was a comic book.

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    1. I have a student right now who is flat-out obsessed with Grease...

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  14. I've never read a graphic novel, but my students do. I will definitely recommend it to them, as this sounds like a great subject!

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    1. I've got plenty of others to recommend if you're interested!

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  15. Sounds like an interesting read considering the time it's set in - but it would be quite haunting to read of a happier, peaceful time, knowing what happened in later decades.

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    1. Sure, especially in Ivory Coast - two civil wars just in the past 15 years.

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