Presenting engagements (including reviews) of poetry books & projects. Some issues also offer Featured Poets, a "The Critic Writes Poems" series, and/or Feature Articles.

Saturday, May 2, 2015



The Arrival by Shaun Tan
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007)

The pain of losing your family, the trip that changes your life completely and the challenge of making new friends. Shaun Tan shows all those things in the book The Arrival without using a single word. He had created a novel that shows many emotions without ever describing them. Shaun Tan wrote a book without using the obvious part of it: words.

            The Arrival is the story of a man who leaves his old life, his friends and his family behind, to go to a new world. The book tells us the story of the immigration of how the man experiences his adventure. The book starts with nine pictures of different, daily things, for example a clock, a bowl and a spoon. The next page is about the man packing his things. There is a large picture of his wife and himself--there is not even a letter, which could describe the atmosphere, but you can feel it though. On the following pages we see how his trip starts and his arrival in the New

Even if the pictures in the book often seem unrealistic, the reader always knows what the picture is supposed to say. A good example are the pictures of the medical control; they look like pictures of immigration station on Ellis Island in New York. On the subsequent pages, the man has his first experiences with the new world and meets new friends. We get information on the history of the new world and on the people living there. We see also how the man gets along better with his new environment from the day to day.

            The Arrival gives us a very good idea how the man must feel in his situation. It is emotional and strange at the same but this particular style of the book is a new, amazing experience. The Arrival deals with a very common situation but it illustrates this in a new way. Shaun Tan placed natural looking humans in very strange surroundings, which leads to the perfect symbol of the immigration experience. The Arrival describes the experience of immigration in completely new way.
            Reading The Arrival was a new, nice experience. It was a trip into a new world and into the world of immigration. It is a book that lets you feel what the characters feel without using a single word. The pictures seem strange and familiar at the same time. Reading the book was an adventure and I would highly recommend everybody who is reading this review to read The Arrival.
            Lots of famous authors share my opinion; for example Craig Thompson reports (author of Blankets), “The Arrival is perfectly infused with fantastical/ surrealistic imagery to capture the wonder and confusion of the immigrant experience. A magical river of strangers and their stories!”  I think that quote summarizes the book perfectly.

My final rating for the book is 5/5, because of all the facts in the text above.


Jonas Schallenberg, a student at Indian Springs School, says, "I am from Germany and in America for an exchange year. At Indian Springs School I am in 12th grade, even though I am just 15 years old. I wrote this book review during my Experimental Literature class and got good feedback back from teacher."

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