the arrival

I was recently given a copy of The Arrival by Shaun Tan. I've never come across Tan's work before, but after reading this thoughtful, beautifully-illustrated book - which is poised somewhere between a graphic novel and a children's picture book - I'm an instant fan.

The Arrival is a universal story of migration and displacement, told through a series of wordless images. A man leaves his wife and child behind in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country of unknown customs and behaviours, mysterious objects, peculiar animals and indecipherable languages. Luckily many of the strangers he meets in this new metropolis have shared his experience, and transcending barriers of language and difference, are keen to help him on his way.

Tan's exquisitely detailed illustrations in sepia tones evoke old family photographs and histories, creating a powerful nostalgic quality: this could easily be a story from some forgotten lost time gone before. However this hopeful, wistful tale is also peculiarly contemporary on its take on the universality of migrant experience, and the importance of communities and belonging. As Tan himself suggests in this interesting commentary on how the book came to be written, 'we might do well to think of ourselves as possible strangers in our own strange land.'


28 April 2009 at 04:08 Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I must check it out! The illustrations are so dramatic, yet soft. :) Glad to here you enjoy it!!

28 April 2009 at 13:30 emily josephine mcphillips said...

shaun tan is awesome.
i used to work in the childrens section of waterstones and was always so sad to see them go because i selfishly wanted to keep them all for myself.

12 May 2009 at 14:34 A "cheery" disposition said...

Love these illustrations