Friday 28 October 2011

The Arrival

Reading every Shaun Tan book is such a wonderful experience. Earlier this year I read and loved The Lost Thing, and most recently I've read The Arrival. For some reason, I was a bit reluctant to read this one. I think perhaps it was the drab sepia colouring of the cover. I'd never even thumbed through The Arrival in the library or a bookshop. Reader, I shouldn't have doubted him.

In The Arrival Shaun Tan takes on the immigrant experience. In a story at once familiar, and yet foreign, a man prepares to leave his wife and daughter. He is clearly leaving his homeland, overrun by a menace that feels second world war Europe, but is represented with shadowy dragon tails.

He leaves his family and travels alone to a new land, to make his fortune, to better his family. He journeys by ship to a new country, a surreal kind of New York harbour.

Once again Tan pays homage to well known images. This one was immediately familiar

but I couldn't recall the name until the Artist's Note at the back named Tom Roberts, Going South, 1886, held at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Once again Shaun Tan has blurred the line between picture book (yet this isn't for toddlers), and graphic novel. Wordless and told in a series of nuanced and highly detailed vignettes, the effect is especially moving. The cover, and styling actually are setting up The Arrival as an old, much loved family photo album.

As with any Shaun Tan book there is just so much detail in each and every drawing that rewards your attention, and will reward multiple re-readings.

If you find yourself with a free 20 minutes one day you could do much worse than browse this wonderful book. In the meanwhile, here is a lovely excerpt to give more of a taste.

Read what I thought of The Lost Thing.


Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

My first thought on seeing the photos of this wonderful book was "Hugo Cabret." Your review and comments are intriguing and I have just placed it in my cart for a young reader (if I decide to give it away).


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Really like this author...isn't he Australian? Something special about authors who are also illustrators...and who are good at both tasks.

Louise said...

Genie- I hope you and your young reader both enjoy it.

Debbie- he certainly is Australian, and so very talented. I think he's improving with age too. Not sure if he's hitting his peak, or there's still more amazement to come. In fact I'm not sure that he could get any better!