Friday, April 27, 2012

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

 The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Release Date: October 12th 2007
Pages: 128
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Publisher: Lothian Books
Buy It: Book Depository
In this wordless graphic novel, Tan captures the struggles and joy of the immigrant experience through clear, mesmerizing images which tell the story of a man who leaves his homeland and his family to build a better life.
When this book was first recommended to me but my younger cousin, I admit that I was confused. A story with no words? But considering the topic of The Arrival: immigration, a story with no words is exactly the perfect way to tell it. In Tan's gorgeous drawings, even the names of signs are in an invented foreign language, so that just like the character, they make no sense to the reader. Instead, you are immersed into this world you don't understand, with no way to communicate, nobody to talk to: it is a powerful and emotionally compelling experience.

The Arrival has sad and happy moments, and the way that Tan visualizes certain emotions is poetic and real. In one instance, upon arriving in a new place, a man opens his suitcase and is filled with the warmth of home where his wife and daughter are eating supper. In another, there is the small victory of being able to communicate with a stranger.

And about the drawings... wow. They are so gorgeous and detailed, so many tiny pictures and portrait, it doesn't surprise me that this book was several years in the making. Tan is an incredibly talented artist, but he is also an incredibly talented storyteller. Overall, I was incredibly impressed and swept away by The Arrival and I will definitely be picking up more books by Tan in the future. Maybe even one with words.


  1. Ooooh... this looks so lovely! I hadn't heard of it, so thanks for sharing. I have had Shaun Tan on my radar since he illustrated an anthology - I think it was for Kelly Link. Or maybe Neil Gaiman? In any case, he's hugely talented, and I can't wait to find this one. Nice review!

  2. I loved this book too (and reviewed it here). I've now linked to your review.

    Have you read any of his other books? I really want to, though I haven't managed to get my hands on any of them yet.


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