Saturday, 20 June 2009

Shaun Tan's literary masterpiece: The Arrival - an in depth book review

I mentioned this in my last book review, and now I've got hold of a library copy it's only fair I review it for you peeps out there. This book is perhaps Shaun Tan's masterpiece - he spent four years meticulously researching and developing this book. And boy, does it show. With only graphite pencil on paper, he has created illustrations that defy description. They are almost photographically realistic, and make you believe completely in the story. The Arrival is a silent, textless, visual tale of a male immigrant who leaves everything behind to find a new life in a faraway country. The country he arrives in is enormous, and everything is new and alien to him. The book sees him, armed with nothing apart from a suitcase and foreign currency, struggle to find shelter, food and some kind of job, with eventual success. In this journey, he meets amazing people who were once immigrants like him, and they retell their equally heart-rending tales of emigration.
Shaun Tan has created a universe in this book. Everything from the landscape to the letters on billboards and maps, and even new, alien-like animals that help the immigrant along the way. New technology is seen (flying tugboats and balloon-lifted cupboards to name a few). The concept is nothing we haven't seen before, but Shaun Tan has taken it and turned it on its head, then pulled it inside out and dissected it. He has created a poignant, heart-warming and some-what eerie tale of sorrow, separation and confusion. This may be a picture book, but it is not for little kiddies. The Arrival, as with all Shaun's books, leaves you thinking deeply about all you have seen within the book. This book challenges you to wonder about it.

Overall, I'm rating The Arrival at 10/10. There is absolutely nothing in this book that has not left me dumbfounded and humbled. This is definitely the most staggeringly amazing book in the universe. if you want to learn more, then go to for more info.

Posted by Fantom at 11:45 am, SATURDAY 20 June


  1. great review... I am going to the library today to get a copy and indulge myself.. Thanks

  2. do you have a copy Will? And if so can I borrow?!! Nene

  3. Yes nene have a copy. Will show soon. You will really love this one. Please refer to me as Fantom.


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