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The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The ArrivalYesterday I had the pleasure to look at Shaun Tan's wonderful and award winning book "The Arrival."

I say "look at" and not "read" because there's nothing to actually read in this book, there are no words. However, it's definitely full of some wonderful and engaging artwork that tells the story.

The Arrival depicts the life of an immigrant trying to make his way in a foreign land where nothing makes sense, not the language, the customs, the animals... Nothing at all. Also, because there is no actual written component to the book, the art puts the reader in the same shoes as the main character, lost in a city of incomprehensible things.

PortThe artwork is richly detailed and sepia-toned, giving it the mystique of older days. The arrival port was one of my favorite moments, because it makes me think of those old pictures of immigrants coming to Ellis Island and encountering the Statue of Liberty. The port scene here has two colossal statues depicting people in boats and greeting each other. It's the moments like this where you get the feel for this fantastic country and the hints at what their values may be. Rather than one lady as a beacon, you have two travelers, greeting each other, shaking hands. This shows openness and cooperation, hospitality, and that this country appreciates its immigrant population. You also see that there are animals as major features on these statues. This country lives in a very symbiotic way with its animal life, and as you follow the immigrant story you see how integral the animals are in this country.

The artwork depicts a world that seems to me like a gentler vision of the H.P. Lovecraft mythos (lots of tentacles, but not very scary) and something akin to the Codex Seraphinianus. It's truly a fantasy world, but one that is loaded with details of actual life. It's that interplay between these two facets that makes this such a memorable work.

I'm totally going to buy a copy of this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
You've made this book sound very appealing. I like the pic you included. :)
Feb. 1st, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
I really really liked it a lot. I could have written more but didn't want to give away too much. The potential reason for the man leaving his home country was really creepy and cool.
Feb. 1st, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
You know I enjoy creepy and cool.

I'm neck-deep in books, but I will keep an eye out for it.

Oh--Blessed Imbolc! :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Eric Fritter Riley

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