Ivorian writer and translator Edwige-Renée Dro is set to translate Tome 7 of the famous Aya of Yop City series set in Côte d’Ivoire. Dro shared the news on Twitter and told us exclusively that the book will be published in late 2024 by Drawn & Quarterly.
Aya of Yop City is a series of seven comics written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie. The original French comics were published by Gallimard between 2005 and 2010. The first six volumes have been translated into English by Helge Dascher at Drawn & Quarterly.
The story is based on the author’s life in Côte-d’Ivoire in the 1970s as the protagonist Aya helps all the people in her life through their everyday dilemmas and issues. The series addresses themes of feminism, gender roles, social issues, and familial and communal dramas.
In a note sent to us, Dro shared that she looks forward to taking on the complications of translating such an iconic story in a way that stays true to its West African roots:
I was beyond excited when Drawn&Quarterly asked me back in February whether this was a project I might be interested in. Of course, said I! Then I had to translate a few sample pages – translating “débalousseur” was fun. Did that mean pickpocket or con man? What about “Parisien moisi”? Obviously I couldn’t just go with “Broke Parisian”, what does that even mean? “Parisien moisi” would be an African immigrant who went to Europe (in this case, France) and comes back home with no kobo to rub together. I wasn’t going to just go for “broke man”. So, it’s been good traveling around the pidgin from Nigeria and Cameroon, and really keeping to the register of language, which is very Ivorian, and although I’m translating into English, I really want to keep that Ivorian flavor. When “hein” adds something to the English, I keep “hein” and I don’t go with “ehn” for instance. In West Africa, we like to add o at the end of sentences. Again, where it makes sense, I’m keeping the o but without the circumflex accent.
And of course, translating a comic book has its particularity, one of which is to keep to the number of words in the original text. If there are five words in a sentence bubble, you keep to five words or maybe 4 in the translation.
But all in all, it’s great fun! Je m’enjaille.
She also adds that, in a rather happy coincidence, she works in Yopougon, the city where the story is set.
Edwige-Renée Dro is a writer, literary translator (French and English) and a literary activist from Côte d’Ivoire. She is the founder of feminist library 1949 Books, one of the laureates of the Africa39 project, and her writings have been published by Bloomsbury, Ankara Press, Myriad Editions, Popula and many others. Dro was the translator for Moon Dog, the winning short story for the 2015 PEN International Short Story Prize, into French.
Congrats to Dro on becoming the translator for the Aya of Yop City series set in her hometown!
Check out a glimpse of Dro’s translation in the following panels from Tome 7.
All photos sourced from Edwige-Renée Dro’s Twitter.