Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Arrival Arrives

My daughter just gave me the novel The Arrival for Christmas ( or is it a graphic novel? A novel told in photo-like graphics? Graphic novel cum photo album?). This is the first time she has specifically found something to give me for Christmas - and orchestrated its acquisition - and I have to say she hit the nail on the head.

The book has been around for a couple of years, but I seem to have missed actually reading it until now. I have to say it's one of the best wordless books I have ever (and I mean that) read. The art is beautiful, the story interesting, and the depictions of the horrors which force immigrants to leave their own lands manages to be not only fantastical but also emotionally spot on. True, few people have actually experienced giants coming into their communities and vacuuming them up, but the impression of looming extermination tastes like real-world truths (and is much more interesting to look at).

And Tan manages to capture the feeling of being a new person in a new country, where you can't find anything, can't read, and don't understand any of the systems. There is a peculiar and wonderful combination of familiarity and weirdness here that I haven't seen before. I highly recommend it, if you haven't seen it - it's much more than a kids' picture book.


Jory Dayne said...

You'd prolly enjoy this short video from Tan, talking about inspiration and various other topics. And you get to see some of his animation work!

mordicai said...

I forgot that I wanted this! Thanks for the reminder.

Lady Meerkat said...

The Arrival is my favourite Shaun Tan book! I've been meaning to blog about him for a while now but you've done such a good job that I might not now ;) Check out his website if you haven't already:

Anonymous said...

That book blew my mind. The frustration of not understanding the pictures completely, being wordless, was so much more visceral than reading about an experience like that. Once I realized what was going on.


ArtSparker said...

I love this book, I see others have already pointed you to Shaun Tan's wonderful website