Shuan Tan is an outstanding multi-award winning artist and writer from Australia. His works are remarkable for their dream-like surreal character and the sharp style of his illustration. The stories operate on multiple levels of meaning and although they are directed at a variety of ages, I’d say they’re closer to adult fables than to children’s stories. Through the characters in his stories and the symbolism of his drawings, Shaun Tan pursues questions of meaning of life and creates airs of both depression and happiness.
The Arrival is one of his major work, a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.