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Marguerite Abouet at the Franschhoek Literary Festival 2011

Hailing from Abidjan, Marguerite Abouet will take part in several literary events in South Africa. Her visit includes her participation in the Franschhoek Literary Festival 2011. Marguerite Abouet will take part in three literary events: Serious vs Hilarious on Friday 13 May featuring two serious women (Marguerite Abouet herself, and South African cartoonist and feminist with an axe to grind Leonora van Staden) and two funny men bestselling crime writer and inveterate comics blogger Colin Cotterill, and maverick enfant terrible of the South African cartoon world Jeremy Nell) who will be discussing contemporary comic art, facilitated by Andy Mason (What’s so Funny?); Young, Black and Reading on Saturday 14 May with Phakama Mbonambi, editor of the literary magazine Wordsetc, and Nollybooks



Publisher Moky Makura, to be chaired by one of South Africa’s leading book personalities, broadcaster

Karabo Kgoleng of SAFM and Secret Women’s Business (Council Chamber) on Sunday 15 May where Edyth Bulbring will use the Australian Aboriginal concept of a place where women go to discuss their affairs to delve into the writing lives of Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish), Marguerite Abouet, and poet and short story writer Arja Salafranca (The Thin Line). Joburgers will also have the opportunity to meet with her in literary events organised by Dibuka in collaboration with the Alliance Française of Johannesburg.


Marguerite Abouet was born in Abidjan in 1971 where she grew up with her family in the vibrant area of Yopougon until the age of 12. Upon her arrival in Paris, she discovered the wealth of libraries and developed a passion for books. Soon, she started writing novels she would not let anyone read, then became in turn punk, super nanny for triplets and grannies and waitress among others. After a career as a legal assistant, she decided to dedicate herself solely to writing and, with the complicity of Clément Oubrerie, created the character of Aya which saw the publication of her first comic strip in 2005.
Highly acclaimed amongst readers (350 000 copies sold) and by the critics (prize winner at the Festival d’Angoulême in 2006 and prize winner of the Point in 2007), the series was translated into 15 languages. Since the success of Aya de Yopougon, she dedicates her time to writing as well as running the association she founded, Des livres pour tous (Books for all), which aims at making books accessible to children of Africa, and creating home libraries in neighbourhoods. Marguerite Abouet now lives near Paris.

Her work
Abouet’s first comic strip, Aya de Yopougon, tells the story of a 19-year old heroine, the studious and clear-sighted Aya, and of her easy-going friends Adjoua and Bintou and their meddling relatives and neighbours. After this, she published another five volumes of Aya’s adventures. It was also her first venture into graphic novels, and a collaborative effort with her husband who used Aya as his first illustrating job in graphic novels. Abouet depicts Africa with a unique voice and humour, far from any clichés, e.g. war and famine. The story has been adapted into an animated film to be released in 2011. One of her latest releases Akissi: Attaque de Chats relates the story of a young, intrepid and stubborn girl who lives in Yopougon, just like Aya. Directly targeted at readers of six years old and older, the story is made up of seven mini-stories for which she taps into various subject matters with humour. Marguerite Abouet found inspiration in her childhood in Ivory Coast to imagine the tender, yet malicious and spicy adventures of Akissi: Attaque de chats, which is the first volume in a new series for children.

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