Sunday, 26 June 2016

Review: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Lothian Books
Pages: 128
Genres: Graphic Novel, Science-Fiction

The Arrival
In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.
A stunning book featuring beautiful sepia artwork invoking the feeling of looking at nineteenth century photographs. The story unfolds without words as a man leaves his family and homeland in order to immigrate to a safer new land. The ultimate message conveyed about the experience of immigration is powerful BUT it didn't emotionally hook me and I was ultimately underwhelmed.

The lack of words was the main problem for me and whilst I understand why there was no words, it didn't necessarily work for me. As the man slowly gets to grip with this new land and understands how it works, I felt like I was left behind as often I genuinely didn't have a clue what the heck was going on. Why did he leave his family behind? What are all these fantastical things? What is going on in his homeland? Just what the dickens is going on?! The artwork is beyond gorgeous but the pretty pictures sadly are not enough for me to fully enjoy this book.

Lots of readers have adored and raved about this book and I think it would be perfect for those that love the idea of interpreting creative meanings from this story for themselves. Sadly I was just left puzzled and emotionally distant.


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