Arrival, The

Shaun Tan


Reviewed: 2019-01-12
Reviewed: 2016-06-02
I am grateful to the following people for their assistance during the four years of research, development and drawing that went into this book: [...]. Much of this book was inspired by anecdotal stories told by migrants of many different countries and historical periods, including my father who came to Western Australia from Malaysia in 1960. [...] Other visual references and inspirations include a 1912 photograph of a newsboy announcing the Titanic sinking, picture postcards of New York from the turn of the century, photographs of street scenes from post-war Europe [...]. Several drawings of immigrant processing, passport pictures, and the "arrival hall" are based on photographs taken at Ellis Island, New York, from 1892 to 1954...

This was the last book of 2015, and one of the best books of 2015. It has now moved me almost to tears twice. Wordless, as its protagonist is wordless in his new home, it is an exploration of the immigrant experience through fantasy pictures that somehow manages to to capture the real world experience better than any documentary could. I have quoted the artist's note above because the amount of research and work that went into this thing is amazing, and the realism comes through magnificently. I don't know of anything else quite like this. You must see it. This one is absolutely one of the most special and wonderful books I've ever had the joy of holding in my hands.
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