Aya fra Yopougon: Sesong 2 – Marguerite Abouet og Clément Oubrerie

Jeg leste den første samlingen om Aya i 2016, men skrev ikke om den. Det blir ikke noe langt innlegg om del to heller, men jeg synes serien fortjener noen ord. Forfatteren av serien, Marguerite Abouet, er selv fra Elfenbenskysten der handlingen i denne tegneserien – eller «grafiske romanen» – er lagt. Abouet flyttet til Frankrike når hun var tolv, fortellingen og Aya er basert på hennes barndomsminner om livet i Abidjan, i det som var en fredfull og framgangsrik periode i Elfenbenskystens historie.

Serien føyer seg selvsagt fint inn i lesemålene mine om mangfold, men er også verdt å ta en titt på for sin egen del. Det er mange forskjellige historier som fortelles her, og Aya fungerer mer som et slags midtpunkt som alle de andre personene har til felles enn som noe hovedperson i tradisjonell forstand. Clément Oubreries tegninger fungerer utmerket sammen med teksten. Denne samlingen avslutter historien om Aya, noe jeg er litt lei meg for, for jeg skulle gjerne visst hva som skjedde videre, men jeg kan ikke beskylde Abouet for å etterlate noen løse tråder.

Boka er opprinnelig på fransk. Den norske utgaven er utgitt av Minuskel Forlag, oversettelsen er ved Alexander Leborg.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Progress

Since we’re now half-way though the year it might be a good time to take stock of the Read Harder challenge.

readharder20169 out of 24 tasks covered, without really paying attention. That’s not too bad. I need to actually focus my reading a bit more in the second half if I am to complete, though. The toughest task might be the audio book, actually. I should probably get a list of winners and check whether the local library happens to have any of them asap.

Other statistics on the half-way mark:

  • I’ve read 46 books so far, which means I’m 12 books ahead if I am to hit the 70 books goal I set on Goodreads.
  • Quite a few of those are comics/graphic novels. This is a good thing, but it distorts the apparent effort a little.
  • I’ve already blogged about 17 books this year, which is actually one more than in the whole of 2015. That’s progress, especially if I can keep it up.
  • I’ve got quite a few half-read books lying around that I haven’t given up on, so a personal challenge for the second half of 2016 is going to have to be finishing off some of those.

Wandering Son, Vol 8 – Takako Shimura

wanderingsonvol8I picked up Vol 1 of Wandering Son by Takako Shimura because it was displayed quite prominently at the main branch of the local library, and pretty much devoured the first 7 volumes in quick succession last year. I never got around to writing about it, and so thought I’d borrow one of them again as a reference to get a blog post down, but then found that Vol 8 had made its appearance, so I borrowed that instead.

The plot of Wandering Son centers around Shuichi Nitori, «a boy who wants to be a girl», and Shuichi’s friend Yoshino Takatsuki, «a girl who wants to be a boy» and I find it quite fascinating for a variety of reasons. There are another 7 volumes to go, and I will definitely be reading them all once they appear in English.

According to the wikipedia page, the series has received a lot of positive attention, but has also been criticized for the unrealistic maturity of the protagonists. To some extent I suppose there’s something in that. The series starts when Shuichi starts fifth grade at a new school, and on the whole most of the people he meets seem curious and accepting of gender bending, which has struck me as somewhat unrealistic. The only really antagonistic and, in contrast with all the rest, childish reactions come from Shuichi’s sister. And perhaps both Shuichi and Yoshino are more maturely self-aware than one could expect. On the other hand I suspect being transgender, in whatever degree or form, would tend to force self-awareness on any kid.

On the plus-side the artwork is delightful, deceptively simplistic. The characters may be unrealistically mature, but they are loveably human and I find it fascinating to follow their transition into puberty (which holds unusual challenges if you’re transgender) and their attempts at coming to terms with their identity.

The English edition is «unflipped», which means that though the text is translated, the pages are printed like the original, you need to start at what we’d consider to be the back of the book and read the panels from right to left. You’d think this would be tricky to keep track of, but once you’re into the story it’s such a page-turner that I really didn’t notice.

On the whole I highly reccommend Wandering Son. If you’ve been meaning to read more graphic novels, or try manga, this is a pretty good place to start. And for me it covers all of two topics on the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, so that’s a boon, too.


Shakespeare: The World as a Stage – Bill Bryson

bryson_shakespeareJust before Christmas I headed to Åre by train for a day in order to pick up Box The Messenger and some yule ale. I was about to finish rereading India Knight’s Comfort & Joy, so needed to bring another book in order to have enough reading material for the journey, and so wandered in to look at my TBR shelf (there are TBR volumes all over the house, of course, but I’ve tried to collect a few of them in a bookcase in the bedroom) thinking «it needs to be something fairly light-weight…» I came out with Bill Bryson’s biography of Shakespeare, and for a second felt a bit like Hermione («I took this out of the library ages ago for a little light reading»). However, in some ways it makes sense. Not that «light-weight» is a fair description of the book, it’s a sound piece of scholarship. What it is, though, is an easy read.

In typical Bryson-style we are taken through what is known of Shakespeare from birth to death (and a little of what happens before and after, too). What is known is so little that a bare-bones telling of that would cover perhaps two pages, so in order to reach two hundred Bryson also expounds on how we know what we know, why we don’t know more (hint: We don’t really know much about anyone from the time, in fact we know a suprising amount about Shakespeare) and rather a lot about all the stuff people have guessed, surmised, interpreted or plainly made up over the centuries. He is appropriately dismissive of those who insist Shakespeare could not have been the author of Shakespeare’s works, but takes the trouble to point out the flaws in the various theories for who else could have been, a few of which I had not heard before. And as could be expected manages to cram an impressive number of little anectdotes into the whole.

So: An easy and pleasant read that leaves you feeling like you learned something, too. Like pretty much everything else by Bryson, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. And finishing it in 2016 means I can tick off task 6 of the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, so there is that.