Friday, January 4, 2013

The Arrival

The ArrivalThe Arrival by Shaun Tan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A surprisingly moving story about hope and yearning in the context of immigration. The lack of words really forces the "reader" to try to apprehend what is happening without any understanding of the full intent or meaning behind the characters' body language. Of course, this puts the "reader" in the position of the main character, an immigrant who cannot understand the language of his new homeland and is unfamiliar with its customs. This creates a funny kind of reverse-metafiction that effectively puts the audience right in the middle of the story's emotional "space". Tan's customary baroque weirdness is on display as we "hear" the stories of several immigrants who encounter each other and tell their tales of how they arrived in this strange land, but Tan shows a greater restraint here than he does in Lost and Found. I prefer the outrageously imaginative art of Lost and Found to the sepia tone nostalgia of The Arrival, though the latter book does carry more emotional impact.

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