Title: The Arrival
Author: Shaun Tan
First Published: 2007
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Source: Library | Sheila's review was what compelled me to pick this book right away
In a nutshell
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.
What more can I say about this book that has been raved about a lot already?
On finishing this book, I realized I had a narrow opinion of how pictures can tell a story. I was looking at them in isolation. I wasn't counting on the interconnection between several pictures to do the story-telling, when a single picture isn't enough. And Shaun Tan uses this technique really well. I was very impressed by this book. Without using words, Shaun Tan creates a world that could be anywhere. Even the language used by the characters in the book is not English. In fact, the reader doesn't even need to understand the words, edit, the reader shouldn't understand the words.
Over the next few days, we see this nameless man (and rightly so) meet up with previous immigrants, who share what they went through in their old hometowns. We see how this man embraces his new life, as he tries to adjust. As he starts looking for a new job, we see how his lack of knowledge of the new place's language becomes hindering. The pictures very well convey how he struggled to understand the customs of the new place, and how he adapted over time.
I strongly recommend this book. This was a new experience for me, reading, rather seeing the pictures. I found this book in the juvenile section of my library. That's fine, but somewhere I read that this book could be read to kids of 5-7 years of age. I'm not entirely sure of that. To actually enjoy this book, you need to understand what Shaun Tan is trying to tell through the strange world. This is the kind of book I will return back to a few more times, since there is so much being told in each picture.
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