Featured book: The Arrival – by Shaun Tan

One of the newest additions to our ‘graphic novels’ section!

The Arrival is a word-less graphic novel depicting the migrant experience, especially those pre-dating modern technology. Set in a fantastical world, the viewer is taken through a journey as the main character, a husband and father, leaves his family to depart for a new, fantastical world. Upon his departure, his wife sobs while his daughter is left somewhat perplexed; she knows her father will be gone, but she’s not sure to where.

Once our protagonist sets foot onto his new home, the chaos and confusion begins. He’s surrounded by strange sights, and strange people who speak a strange language, while bizarre creatures roam the streets. Through the sepia tinted artwork, we feel the soot in the air of this industrious city. The man is thrown into deep waters, as he’s left on his own to navigate this seemingly maze like city. This is where Shaun Tan’s artwork really shines; the imagery is anxiety-inducing but still beautiful and able to convey tranquility, amidst the ever-moving hustle and bustle. These pages are reminiscent of the scenes in The Godfather 2 when Robert De Niro plays a young Vito Corleone arriving in New York City. 

Along the way he meets all manners of people, some friendly, and others in despair, trapped like a small cog in a moving machine. Most disheartening is when he realises they most likely all had the same dreams he has. 

At the end of each day, he retreats back to his small room, and stares at a picture of his family. With no means of instant communication, this is his only refuge as he longs for their eventual reunion. 

Available now at Paperbacks.

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