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.