The Arrival, By Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a powerful story and an amazing piece of art. This tale of a man who leaves his family and country behind for opportunity in another land is told entirely without words. Rather, artist Shaun Tan relies on amazingly well-drawn panels to draw the viewer into a world both familiar and strange. With each panel, we see the frustration that the nameless protagonist faces as he tries to make a new life in a place where he doesn’t speak the language. We also witness the kindness paid upon him by strangers willing to help him out (including the strange little dog-like animal that lives in his new home with him).

Basing his story on anecdotal stories of immigrants from many places and time periods, Tan helps the reader to see what it must be like to be an immigrant to a new land. The absence of any readable words in the book reinforces this. In fact, the words that do appear in the book are unintelligible to both the protagonist and the reader.

Although it may take more than one viewing to get the full impact of this book (it did for me), I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Doug Short, Library Services