Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tales from the Inner City” as Want to Read:
Tales from the Inner City
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tales from the Inner City

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,716 ratings  ·  346 reviews
TALES FROM THE INNER CITY is a collection of incredibly original stories, rich with feeling, strangely moving, almost numinous. And when the reader comes to the artwork, it's like walking into an amazing room, and then throwing open a curtain to see a brilliant scene that makes you understand and appreciate everything you've encountered in a deeper way. ...more
Hardcover, 1st edition, 221 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tales from the Inner City, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Justin Green Halfway point? As in halfway through the book? Don't know - I would stick to the shorter more accessible chapters though, in no particular order. The …moreHalfway point? As in halfway through the book? Don't know - I would stick to the shorter more accessible chapters though, in no particular order. The last chapter (human) sums it all up though.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,716 ratings  ·  346 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Tales from the Inner City
Whispering Stories
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

Tales from the Inner City is a strange, yet an eye-opening book about co-existing with animals and what they can teach us about ourselves. It is a book for older children, teenagers, and even adults.

With twenty-five stories about animals, mixed in with poems and some gorgeous artwork, this book has something for everyone. Most of the stories are quite dark and yet very intelligently written.

Shaun Tan has used his stories about animals to reflec
...more
Marianne
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Where money gathers, so do pigeons. They flock to great financial centers like so many accountants in smart grey waistcoats and glittering collars, bright-eyed, strutting, nodding, darting purposefully between the fiscal-black heels of merchant bankers, bartering every walking minute for a tidy profit.”

Tales from the Inner City is a picture book for adults by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. What a wonderful book! Shaun Tan is so talented. There are twenty-five tales,
...more
Julie
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Original short stories and intriguing illustrations. Lines that spoke to me personally:
"Nothing shrinks the imagination like a waiting room, and a lift is nothing if not the smallest of all waiting rooms." So true! Yet, it is one of those things that we 'know' but don't acknowledge until someone else points it out to us.

"One day I threw my stick at you.
You brought it back.
My hand touched your ear.
Your nose touched the back of my knee.
Then we were walking side by side
as if it had always been this
...more
T.D. Whittle
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, shaun-tan
'Your money is meaningless to us,' said the bears. 'You grasp economics with the same clawless paws you use for fumbling justice.'

And, once again, the bears showed us.

There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our
...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was an enchanting collection of whimsical stories, enhanced by the imaginatively evocative artwork of this very talented artist.

This book is a series of stories that kind of defy the imagination to adequately describe. There is an element of urban-fantasy of the more unique variety. They could also be thought of as perfect bedtime stories for adults; reading them was meditative, unexpected and always replete with gentle enchantment that left me feeling emotionally richer for having read the
...more
Renee Godding
Beautiful in so many ways...

Tales from the Inner City is a short story collection by author and illustration Shaun Tan, who has combined his talents in both these fields to create a book that is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside.
Shaun Tan is known for his (for the lack of a better word) “experimental” work, and this signature style can be found in this collection as well. His stories are surrealist, without falling in the trap of being “ quirky for the sake of it”. On the surfac
...more
Mathew
An absolutely fascinating collection of what I can only think of describing as post-modern cautionary tales which, through our relationship with animals, explores man's materialistic obsessions and how we have lost our relationship with animals and the natural world.
As with all Tan's work, interpretation is left open and meanings will be rich and varied with some stories' messages clearer than others (perhaps). It is fascinating to think that the blend between extended written narrative and glo
...more
Danielle
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A mesmerizing collection of stories and corresponding artwork from Shaun Tan that is also kind of uncategorizable as some of his work tends to be. Each entry focuses on one species of animal in a world that feels like a futuristic, more bizarre version of our own. Nature still exists, but it's not the nature we know now, and animals are different—more populous or less, stranger, magical, changed, and directly in our day to day lives, perhaps because we've destroyed the places they used to live. ...more
Callum McLaughlin
I love surrealism when it comes to art, but really struggle with it when it comes to prose, which often makes reading Shaun Tan's books a tale of two halves for me.

Conceptually, I thought this was excellent; 25 short stories, each one focussed on a different animal, commenting on the beauty, brutality, and complexity that make up man's relationship with nature. Each one is accompanied by at least one stunning double-page illustration.

Whilst plot-wise, most of the stories did little for me, I a
...more
Becket
Y'all, I am not a crier (at least not about books), but the stunning art in this book brought me to tears TWICE. If you're an animal lover, prepare yourself for the possibility of emotional onslaught with every page-turn reveal. ...more
Rebecca
Everything Shaun Tan does is amazing. This collection of surreal stories about animals in the city is longer, but, like a picture book, does a lot with the visual impact of a page turn, many of which reveal haunting double-page paintings that end each story with a vision that you may or may not have been picturing. Teens and adults will find much to discuss here. I was reminded at different times of stories by Margo Lanagan and Ray Bradbury, and also the visually mysterious book The Mysteries of ...more
Mikaela Revell
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shaun Tan has not let me down.
Angelina
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shaun Tan has created a wonderful collection of urban tales (some in the form of poems) - bizarre, poetic and thought provoking, often tinged with a little sadness. And on top of that they are all accompanied by his stunning, luminous illustrations that always linger in you mind after you've closed the last page.
On the surface, these stories are dedicated to different animals dwelling in the city - crocodiles, butterflies, giant snails, cats, dogs, horses, fish, frogs, bears and many more. But i
...more
lethe
Although the art is as beautiful as ever, this book didn't enchant me the way his other books do.

The 25 nameless stories all feature a type of animal. Each is preceded by a silhouette of the animal in question and ends with a double-page illustration (some have more than one). The stories are surrealistic and on the whole quite sombre in tone, although that may have been my own frame of mind.

My favourite is the one about the Dog, with its many colourful illustrations.
...more
Michelle
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very significant book. It is dark and often difficult to read, especially the shark, pig and fish chapters. But its message about the interconnectedness between humans and animals is incredibly important. Animals have largely not been respected by humans. They have been abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered throughout recorded history. And yet, humans still consider themselves the enlightened, superior beings. Tan cleverly exposes the truth. He does this through a beautiful blend o ...more
Frank-Intergalactic Bookdragon
"But explanation is a luxury we can't afford these days, and reality doesn't care for it, being far too busy following its own unknowable course."

By far one of the most beautiful and meaningful books I've read in a long time. The prose almost reads like poetry (in one story it's literal poetry) and the illustrations are breathtaking, I want to draw this well! Because it's anthology I found some of the stories forgettable but I like how each one had something interesting to say about humanity. My
...more
Suzan Jackson
This wholly unique illustrated collection of short stories defies categorization, combining gorgeous color-saturated paintings with surreal, fantastical stories set in cities and involving animals and humans. Beautiful, bizarre, and thought-provoking. Read my full review at:

https://bookbybook.blogspot.com/2019/...
...more
Ely
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I swear Shaun Tan is a genius. Everything in here was beautiful, but I think my favourites were the fox, bee and butterflies.
Riana (RianaInTheStacks)
Shaun Tan’s Tales from the Inner City is a wonderful compilation of short stories, poetry, and art. There is at least one original art piece from Tan illustrating each tale, regardless of format. Each story takes a focus on a different animal and the relationship humanity has, and has had, with that species. The author draws on both humanity’s interactions and comparisons with these animals in exploring our relationship. Tan beautifully employs magical realism in his painting of modern life ...more
Lexi Nylander
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The art in this was honestly stunning. Evocative of what I can't entirely be sure, but it was a little spooky and off in a way that was beyond beautiful. The short stories were my favorite type of magical realism where things are just about the same but a little bit off, only in a way that changes absolutely everything.

"Who can now imagine our city without these beautiful creatures? We would be so sad if they ever went away, leaving us all alone with our small ideas about love."

"The mayor search
...more
HP Saucerer
Shaun Tan applies his unique imagination to a reflection on the nature of humans and animals with this intriguing collection of surreal stories set in an alternate world where animals inhabit the spaces normally reserved for humans. One tale takes us to the 87th floor of a skyscraper where, unbeknownst to the other tenants of the tower, a float of crocodiles keep watch over the city’s financial district, a space built upon the very swamps where these glorious reptiles once roamed. Other tales im ...more
Mairi
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place. Well, this we simply could not do.

Bears with lawyers, fish that now swim in the sky, and an office block filled with alligators...

Tales from the Inner City was an impulse purchase from a book shop after I was so taken aback by the be
...more
Angie
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I remember reading The Arrival a long time ago and I love the artwork, but this book is even better. Again, Tan's artwork is amazing. He has that painterly style I would kill for where his subject can be a gray, dismal city but his brush strokes and dabs and dots of color that shine through so beautifully! His writing is also unique and fun to read, but with sad undertones as each tale has to do with an animal, and it never seems to go well for said animal, and the human(s) doesn't seem to reali ...more
Tom Evans
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I now know why Shaun Tan is so critically acclaimed, an incredible collection of stories complemented by outstanding illustrations.
Too Much To Swallow (I am fox!)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maxwell Thomas
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite dreamlike and surreal. The advanced reader's copy we received at the bookstore had only a handful of stories, however they were unique and intriguing and the illustrations were phenomenal. I look forward to getting a chance to read the full thing. ...more
Kathleen
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked the story about man-and-dog, and the one about the yak. My favorite pictures were the orca in the sky, and the one with the snails - I could almost swear I heard the buzzing of the sodium lamp.
Samson
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A darker, more adult "tales from Outer Suburbia." It was surreal and long, most of the stories were like dreams, or, nightmares. A few stories stood out though, my favourites were the bee, the dog, the butterfly, the orca, and the snail. (also, this is an adult book, no matter what it looks like) ...more
Ashes
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm speechless. The book made me want to be part of the solution even more than before. Not every story resonated with me so strongly, but the ones that did just stuck, and I don't think I will ever be able to forget the words or the paintings. Stunning, saddening, terrifying. ...more
Michelle
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another great book by Shaun Tan! This time focusing on the relationship between humans and animals, with amazing artwork to go along with the short stories. Some of my favorites were: Crocodile, Dog, Cat, Bear, Owl, and Rhinoceros.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Rabbits
  • The Wanderer
  • The Girl Who Became a Tree: A Story Told in Poems
  • Skip
  • The Thud
  • Pigiama Computer Biscotti
  • Qui c’è tutto il mondo
  • The Visitor
  • Arlo the Lion Who Couldn't Sleep
  • The Dam
  • Mr. Invincible
  • Fatti vivo: 2006-2016
  • Otto Tattercoat and the Forest of Lost Things
  • The Blue Hour
  • The Future Keepers
  • Parang
  • Stories of the Night
See similar books…
2,084 followers
Shaun Tan (born 1974) is the illustrator and author of award-winning children's books. After freelancing for some years from a studio at Mt. Lawley, Tan relocated to Melbourne, Victoria in 2007. Tan was the Illustrator in Residence at the University of Melbourne's Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education for two weeks through an annual Fellowship offered by the May Gibbs Children’s Liter ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
50 likes · 13 comments
“And when you died
I took you down to the river.
And when I died
you waited for me by the shore.
So it was that time passed between us.”
8 likes
“And, once again, the bears showed us.

There they were, God help us, the Ledgers of the Earth, written in clouds and glaciers and sediments, tallied in the colours of the sun and the moon as light passed through the millennial sap of every living thing, and we looked upon it all with dread. Ours was not the only fiscal system in the world, it turned out. And worse, our debt was severe beyond reckoning. And worse than worse, all the capital we had accrued throughout history was a collective figment of the human imagination: every asset, stock and dollar. We owned nothing. The bears asked us to relinquish our hold on all that never belonged to us in the first place.

Well, this we simply could not do.

So we shot the bears.”
6 likes
More quotes…