The Arrival - Shaun Tan

I'd previously read Shaun Tan's The Red Tree and finally tracked down a copy of The Lost Thing, both of which I enjoyed immensely. They're both picture books, ostensibly children's books, though with melancholy overtones and hints of deeper and more troubling things than most children should have to think about. When I read about his new book The Arrival, I asked the library to order a copy.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that this wordless book about immigration is substantially meatier than the first two, both in size and content. In the bookstore this will probably be shelved with graphic novels although the cover also evokes Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Most of the time I finish graphic novels fairly quickly, but this one took me several days, poring over the details and enjoying the beauty of the images.

The images themselves, like the cover, are sepia-toned and weathered-looking. It has the feel of watching old films and flipping through yellowed photographs. Tan still uses his surrealism and humor, but this time the effect is to show how alien a land can be to a newcomer: from finding a place to live to getting a job to figuring out what to eat, everything is incomprehensible.

It's a beautiful book and an engaging account of the lives of immigrants. I bought myself a copy, and I've been considering getting some more as gifts.

Tan is definitely an artist to watch, and you can find out more about him on his website, The three books I've mentioned here are the only ones he's written and illustrated, but he has also illustrated a few books written by other authors, and I'm hoping to check those out in the future.

Fed to jonathan's brain | November 28, 2007 | Comments (0)


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