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It’s that time of the year again! Since the first edition, the Armchair Audies has been one of my favorite book blogging events. I’ve discovered lots of great reads but unfortunately, have yet to put my money in the winner – maybe this year? I’ve also noticed that this time around all books I searched for were available to me on, while in previous years there were lots of annoying country restrictions.

I was really torn between categories. History, Female Narrator, Male Narrator, Fiction, and Sci-fi looked really interesting, but I’ll go with Literary Fiction & Classics. (Still a bit confused about the difference between fiction and literary fiction.)

Several reasons for the choice: a couple of them were already under my radar, there’s a nice diversity in the writers, narrators, topics and geographical setting, and none are sequels.

So these are the books I’ll listen to by mid-May:


  • The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, read by Chukwudi Iwuji
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by Kieron Elliot
  • Little Big Man by Thomas Berger, read by Scott Sowers, David Aaron Baker, and Henry Strozier
  • Sweetland by Michael Crummey, read by John Lee
  • ‘Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma, read by Ron Butler and Bahni Turpin

Are you joining?


Book 2 of the Aya series (thoughts on the first one here) about four families in Yopougon, a neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory’s Coast’s capital. It’s set in the 70s, when the country’s was going through an economic boom and it continues to be refreshing to see a side of modern Africa that’s not filled with war and AIDS. If you know of any other comics like these let me know.

Like Book 1, it’s not an action-packed story. I’m actually approaching it as a really smart and funny twist on a soap-opera: Adjoua’s new life as a young single mother, Bintou’s fashionable new love-interest from Paris (or is he?), the mystery around the girl with the wig, dramatic cliffhanger ending. Book 3 is called “The Secrets Come Out” and like another episode of an addictive soap-opera I’m really really want to know them!

If I had one less positive point to make is that, although Aya is the name on the cover, she was rather passive, basically just a shoulder for her friends to cry and lean on. She has the potential to be such an interesting character – a steady young women who wants to be a doctor – that I’d like to know her a bit more.

This book also included a “Ivorian Bonus”, including a recipe for Chicken Kedjenou, a guide on how to wrap a baby on your back and a great short “essay” on how a popular Ivorian proverb is put into practice everyday.


Other thoughts: Page 247, largehearted boy, My Favourite Books (yours?)


image (2)Read for the A More Diverse Universe Challenge

Thing have been quite over here, but normal service will resume shortly. Between holidays in Morocco and a work assignment in Senegal, both with somewhat unreliable internet connections, blogging was neglected, but much reading was done!

I’ve finished Retribution Falls by Chris Woodding (loved the Firefly vibe, but the tell-not-show style, among other things, was a let down), and The Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel Fergoson, re-read Tracy Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn after a weekend in Paris where I saw the Cluny tapestries live for the first time (wow!) and started Sayers’ Busman’s Holidays. Also listened to Mandel’s Station Eleven (well deserved hype) and my first Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge (sooo good, but not the lightest of reads).

Looking forward to digging into my Feedly and know what y’all were up to!

photo (11)Ladurée Champs Elysées

IMG_0514Moroccan desert


Courtyard of our riad in Marrakesh. I wish the photo could carry the smell of orange blossoms…

photo 1 (4)

Reading Dorothy L. Sayers in Dakar


This was a such a fun and vibrant reading, exactly my cup of tea.

The author Marguerite Abouet spent her childhood in Ivory Coast in the 70s before moving to Paris, and Aya is based on her memories of those happy days. It was a time when Ivory Coast was going through a peaceful economic boom and this book is meant to portray an Africa that’s not about war, disease or poverty. I does exactly that, but I just couldn’t completely escape the knowledge that it won’t last.

But anywhoo. I loved Aya. It’s one of the best comics of the year so far and I can wait to read the second one. There’s nothing mind-blowing about the story, it’s just a snapshot of the lives of a group of middle-class teenagers: they study, date, are acutely aware of social norms, follow the fads and rebel against strict parents. And yet, Yopougon in the 70s is a fascinating place to read about, full of colour, hope and energy. It’s at the same time familiar (heavily influence by their former French colonizers) and completely foreign.

AyaAya, the title character, is a steady-fast teen that seems to be the moral compass of her friends and neighborhood – not in a holier-than-thou way, she’s just reliable and principled. Her father’s reaction when Aya told him about wanting to become a doctor is a great example of how this apparently mild book is in fact about more serious social topics.

Clement Oubrerie’s illustrations perfectly complement Abouet’s writing, with their vibrancy, warm and creative angles.

At the end of each book there’s a section about Ivory Cost, where different characters give us recipes, teach us how to tie a skirt the Ivorian way, etc. It’s a cute detail that helps us connect even more with this small community.

I think this is the one comic book I’ve ever read not only written by an African author, but actually set in Africa – can you recommend any others?

The story has been adapted for the big screen, here’s the trailer in French. It gives you a good feeling for the book.


Other thoughts: Brown Paper, Good Books & Good Wine, the book nest, Escape in a book, Book Addiction, Page 247, Buried in Print, Biblioglobal (yours?)

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