Graphic Novel: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

I am so grateful to those of you who recommended I read a book by Shaun Tan and, in particular, The Arrival. I sat out under a tree for a couple of hours just absorbing this book. I read the whole book three times and some parts several more times. That’s a lot of reading for a book with no words.

I decided to go get my camera and take some pictures so I could share it with you. I don’t believe I have adequate words to describe this book, I can only give you an outline.

A man decides to go from his native land and immigrate to a new country. The hardest part was leaving his wife and daughter. It may be a long time before he can send for them.

The journey by train and by sea is treacherous. The clouds above the ship are stormy. Finally, the ship docks and the long lines begin. The process to be allowed into the country is a long one.

Once the man is permitted into the country he must find a place to live and work. The new country is so different from what he is familiar with. Indeed, it looks magical.

I’ll save the rest of the story for you to experience. One more thing I want to share is the end-papers. Here is just a small sample. This is a big book and both front and back end-papers are covered with these portraits of all the various immigrants. Aren’t the drawings amazing? They are so intricate, they feel like photos.

In the back of the book the author acknowledged that inspiration for the story came from his father who immigrated to Australia in 1960. Mr. Tan has talked with many other immigrants and done numerous hours of research.

Shaun Tan’s decision to do the story without text was a conscious one.  He said, “My interest as an artist has been to dislocate the reader in order to better explore the idea of being an immigrant within a foreign culture.”  Well, for me, he succeeded. I was dislocated but I was also mesmerized. I now wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.

I found a copy at the public library but it’s also available at Amazon.

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9 Responses to Graphic Novel: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

  1. JoAnn says:

    I’ve seen several very positive reviews of this one, but somehow your photos (and words!) have convinced me to finally check my library. Thanks, Margot!

  2. Heather says:

    Oh happy day! I’m so glad you enjoyed this book! Isn’t Shaun Tan amazing? The Arrival is one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. The things he does with pictures… Now get Tales from Outer Suburbia and see what he does with pictures AND words. It is my favorite, hands down. 🙂

  3. Stephanie says:

    Wow–looks like a very powerful book!

  4. My library just emailed me that my copy on hold is in also, so I will be picking it up today. I’m really looking forward to it!

  5. Bumbles says:

    I just like the image of you sitting under a tree with this book. Just like I used to spend my summers doing growing up. I like his reasons for images only – works very well with the subject he took on. Thanks for sharing the inside peek too!

  6. cerrin says:

    That looks great…But I am not sure How I would do with a book with no words. I mean when I was little I loved looking thru all the books with the pictures. But Now I like the story

  7. Staci says:

    When I ordered this one for my school library I took it home and spent over a week with it. I slowly studied the pages and savored the story. Gorgeous isn’t it?????

  8. Beth F says:

    This will sound funny about a book that has no words — but there are really no words to describe the power of The Arrival. I’m so glad you read it.

  9. kaye says:

    how beautiful, this changes my perception of graphic novels completely.

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