"The Arrival is 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." (Source: Shaun Tan website)
Unit Suitable For:
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5).
A unique 128-page, textless graphic novel, in black, white and sepia, The Arrival draws its inspiration from tales of migrants in past and recent times. The central character is a middle-aged man who arrives in a strange new place and tries to find a place to live, a job and a handle on a new language. He encounters many challenges, all described entirely through visual sequences. The absence of words emphasises the strangeness of the situation and the loneliness experienced by many migrants, but the ending is full of affirmation and hope, when the wife and son the migrant had to leave behind are finally able to join him in their new homeland.
Source: Publication Synopsis provided by Reading Australia
Images from The Arrival were used in 2008 by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in their performance 'The Arrival'. The ACO's performance combined Shostakovich's final string quartet with projected images from Tan's picture book.
A musical score by Ben Walsh, inspired by The Arrival, first performed by Orkestra of The Underground to projected images from the book at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales, October 2010.