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The Arrival

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  46,604 ratings  ·  4,470 reviews
A man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life--he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizin
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 2007 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Mustafa Kemal I think it's about how there's a universal language. Instead of their pets being simply an allegory that represents something that we, the reader woul…moreI think it's about how there's a universal language. Instead of their pets being simply an allegory that represents something that we, the reader would relate to, they're a part of the universal language that EVERYBODY relates to. When you see two pets who can't communicate in human means feel mutual things, it makes you understand how people who can't communicate in human ways (i.e languages) can understand each other clearly.

Pets, food, architecture, fashion, economy.. Everything complements this constant state of not "knowing" but "relating" or maybe even "recalling", in a vague way. For example when one of the natives we get to meet recalls a certain event (the invasion? War? idk man) to feel the main character.(less)
Raphi Yes, most definitely! Everything about it is gorgeous, and the storytelling is simply magnificent. There's also the added bonus that it will take you …moreYes, most definitely! Everything about it is gorgeous, and the storytelling is simply magnificent. There's also the added bonus that it will take you as long as you want it to to finish it, since it consists simply of pictures, though I do advise that you take your time with it and go through it slowly to get the most out of the images.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  46,604 ratings  ·  4,470 reviews

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Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely and amazing.

Re-read this In May 2016 with my little son.

My thoughts?

If I could buy everyone in America a copy of this book, I would.
Cristina Monica
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cristina Monica by: Ana
There were no words in this graphic novel. No dialogs. No written sentences. No words.

But, as I realized throughout my read, they weren’t needed. The mesmerizing art was enough.


And what illustrations! Never have I read such a graphic novel before!

It was a fast-read. I don’t think I’ve even spend thirty minutes to get through it. The story was poignant and I loved how realistically it portrayed immigrants and how metaphorically and fantastically the author drew the world-building and settings.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To see this and other wordless picture book reviews, please visit

The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a graphic novel and wordless story of illustrations highlighting an immigrant man's journey told through an imaginary world.

I picked this up for my students a few years ago after hearing a special on NPR about it. We enjoyed following along in the story as the illustrations send powerful messages and emotions. It almost feels like a movie as you're turning the pages.

This is
Mutasim Billah
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mutasim by: Tukunjil Nayeera
First of all, special thanks to Tukunjil Nayeera for recommending me this wonderful book.

The Arrival is a wordless graphic-novel that tells the tale of an immigrant father who leaves his family to work in a foreign land. The story is told in the form of sequential art with the mood being set with varying degrees of sepia-tone colored illustrations in multiple frames and panels.

The story takes place in a strange fantasy realm, where the hero immigrates to a different place to support his family.
This book is magnificent!

A wordless graphic novel that the tells the familiar tale of an immigrant, and somehow makes the story new and exciting.


A man says goodbye to his wife and daughter, and sets out, taking only a suitcase containing a precious photograph of his family. He leaves a dark and ominous city for a journey across the sea. Days pass, each depicted by a drawing of the sky. The ship enters the harbor and a strange new world is revealed. The man is examined, cataloged, and labeled. Th
David Schaafsma
6/19/18: Reading for summer YA GN and Comics class, wordless, a masterpiece everyone should own. Here I borrow from Agne's background on how Tan wrote it:

The feel is silent movies, De Sica's (1948) The Bicycle Thief and photographs of immigrants on display at Ellis Island. Why is this book constantly timely in this country and in too many countries on the nature of refugees and immigrants. The separation of a parent from his child in this book is wrenching
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wondrous and wonderful book. Entirely told in drawings & pictures, not a word at all in the pages, apart from the title on the cover. My first 'graphic novel'. Beautifully designed 'in sepia', a weird and touching story. About a man who leaves his wife and little daughter to emigrate to a new country, to find work and earn a living. But it is no ordinary story, it is full of fantasy images, creatures and weird observations. It seems to be symbolic for people going to another country to ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

arrival 1

How did we get from a golden door to prison bars?


Shaun Tan doesn't engage in political polemics. He has no need of words at all. His silent surrealist paintings are more eloquent that all the ghostwriters, TV anchors and political commentators that try to convince us that black is actually whi
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
The Arrival begins with a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean.


We follow his struggles being away from home, and entering into a new life where not much is understood or explained. The Arrival tells a universal story of immigration.

It was a little hard at first depicting each picture without text, but the more I got into the story, the more I understood.

This book is a wordless story told through capturing images. It is
Archit Ojha
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks

You do not need words when you have a talent as loud as this.

Shaun Tan has, in fact, rocked the charts and souls alike with the poignant way of life of an immigrant.

Working hard, toiling under the sun and those sorrowful nights are all acceptable - when you see your family smile.

Believe me, it's that smile on your wife's face when you return home that makes you work harder. Win more.

You might be a CEO or a construction helper, at the end of the day you want to come to a happy family.

With evoking
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a single word here...........just a beautifully illustrated picture story that communicates to the reader the heartbreaking separation of an immigrant family.

In one man's travels across the ocean to an unfamiliar land, the struggles are apparent to connect to an unknown people, to find work, and earn a living so a desperate father can provide for and be reunited with his wife and daughter.

Wonderfully portrayed images induce the reader to envision a difficult life with hope for a better futur

Onaiza Khan
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I just loved this one.
Jon Nakapalau
Captures the experience of immigrants in a surreal way that speaks to the wonder and fear of being in a new country - walking the tightrope between opportunity and alienation.
Jan Philipzig
Shaun Tan`s Universal Masterpiece

Shaun Tan's graphic novel The Arrival tells the story of the refugee experience, depicting its sense of deprivation, danger, loneliness, discovery, and wonder.

Rooted in the picture-story tradition that predates modern comics, the book's wordless language mirrors the protagonist's inability to communicate though words in his new environment; the surreal images provide the story with universal relevance.

Brilliantly conceived and masterfully realized, The Arrival is
Whitney Atkinson
Every time I read a graphic with great art I say "THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE ART STYLE IT'S SO PRETTY" but i'm serious about this one. Probably the most gorgeous book I've ever read.

The Arrival is a story told entirely in pictures about the experience of immigration. It's a surrealistic story, meaning that the world he moves away from and then later into, is very fantastical with sci-fi elements. This was a little bit jarring at first, but once you realize the metaphor that's being established-- t
[Shai] Bibliophage
Indisputably, The Arrival is a stunning wordless graphic novel that will attract readers because of how brilliantly it narrated a story through illustrations. It vividly describes the tale of an immigrant starting in a foreign land: how he struggled with communicating, adjusting to the new culture, the problem on seeking employment, and missing his family.
The Arrival
This fiction depicts the true story of some foreigners who chose to leave their love ones, and trying their luck abroad in order to pr
Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who liked The Invention of Hugo Cabret, who like magic realism
Shelves: recommended
When people recommended The Arrival to me, I thought it would be of academic interest. You know, as an artist, I would find it visually appealing, as a YA author, I would find it stylistically interesting, etc. So it took me a long time to pick it up, and I'm so glad that I did.

The Arrival is a graphic novel (told in illustrations, not in comics) telling the story of an immigrant coming to a new land. The metaphor is brilliant: Shaun Tan sensitively illustrates a very human protagonist coming to
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
I'm glad that other people know how to put pictures of the pages of this book into their reviews because if I had that kind of knowledge, I fear my entire review would be page after page of the breathtaking artwork in this wordless graphic novel. That description is so fitting, as this story has no words, yet you read it like you would read a novel. The pencil drawings tell the whole story and a touching, mystical story it is. I believe the author more than achieved what he set out to accomplish ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
A visual treat for art lovers.
It depicts perfectly the emotions and the dilemma of someone shifting to a completely new place; adapting and finally accepting the new environment as well as saying goodbyes.

”The Arrival”

That's it - the only text in this extraordinary book. This is a story that needs no translation, art that speaks directly to the “reader”.

The inside front and back covers are completely filled with faces, easily identifiable if you happened to know any of the people (I didn’t) and representing migrants from all over the world, some looking something like you, perhaps.

Tan said that some faces were inspired by the photos from Ellis Island, NY, where so many migrants have entered t
In my ongoing effort to tackle some of my more "pictorial" books I decided to spend a few days absorbing the majestic work of Australian artist / illustrator Shaun Tan. The Arrival is surely his Magnum Opus, a four year project resulting in this stunning sepia toned homage to the migrant experience.
The artwork is meticulous in this, the colour palette morphing from warm, rich sepia tones, to greys and blacks, matching the changing tone of the story. The world drawn here is one almost entirely
Paul Bryant
Wow - calling all goodreaders with Christmas present problems - look no further. Buy this one for anyone! They'll never have seen anything like it, and they'll love it. Flinty grandfathers and surly 9 year olds will all love this. It's an entirely wordless story about emigrating and trying to make a new life, with a twist of Jules Verne steampunk. Shaun Tan is absolutely brilliant. The world he creates is familiar and strange and heartbreaking too. Let the rest of this review be wordless too.

Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never expected to like this picture book. In fact, I don't like many picture books. I have no problem making up a story for the pictures; I just like it more when a story is provided. But when I opened up THE ARRIVAL, I instantly knew there was something different about this book.

This is the story of what I can only imagine is the way millions of European immigrants felt as they left their homelands and ventured forth to become part of America.

With each page, I thought of my grandfather, Hil
How have I never heard of this book before now. I see how popular it is. It has found me now and I'm thankful for the experience.

This book is wordless and yet it says to much with the extraordinary imagination of Shaun Tan. His vision is boundless. His art work blows your brains out of your mind and your like, I knew there was more in this world. I can't believe all the things I have never imagined before. This world is so beautiful.

This is an immigration story for safer lands to grow a family i
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 effective ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trish by: Sud666
I found this after a friend recommended it to me.

It‘s the story of a man leaving his country (and family) behind as there are monsters there. He embarks on a journey across the ocean, landing in a fantasy-version of NYC. There, he has to find his bearings, meets all kinds of people, manages to find work to ultimately send money back home that will bring his wife and daughter to him.

What makes this story special is that it is told in graphics only. The entire book only shows pictures, no text -
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
OH MY GOD!!!!!! This is one of the best books I have ever read! Can I have some more stars to put?!

‘The Arrival’ is a book without words, a silent book! It has pictures, only pictures and they are mesmerizing! The writer and illustrator, Shaun Tan has done an amazing job. Hats off! His way of conveying emotions of the story to the reader only using pictures is totally out of the world!

It is a story of a man who leaves his country to find a better place for his family and ends up in a new place
It's a jewel. I must have been stupid letting it rest for so long on my shelf... Beautiful. Shaun Tan evokes so many emotions in you and each an every one of his pages engages you so much that one only wishes it lasted longer... No words, nothing is being said and yet only few books drove me in me so much this year... Brilliant.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly one of the all-time best graphic novels I have ever read and considering it's all pictures, no words, just flawless!!
The artwork is all pencil style drawings and it focuses on literal and figurative immigration and experiences. Truly an experience in itself to read through and adore.
Almost every page was emotional, heartfelt and touching or exciting, vibrant and fresh and there were so many little stories weaved into one that I just couldn't help but to admire it from page one. I was
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Arrival is a graphic novel for young readers by award-winning Australian illustrator and author, Shaun Tan. The father is packing his case, taking his leave of his wife and daughter to travel far away. There’s the hint of something threatening that makes this necessary. A train journey, a ship takes him (and many others) a long way away (it must be a long way because there are sixty different cloud formations seen).

Then they arrive, are processed, and suddenly, here he is, on his own, away
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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

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