Book Reviews Books

Book Review: TALES FROM THE INNER CITY by Shaun Tan

TALES FROM THE INNER CITY‘s originality treats the reader’s eyes and mind.

Tales from the Inner City is a unique piece of art. In each (short) chapter, Tan highlights a designated animal. With a short story or a poem, each animal is represented in a new, extraordinary way. Every chapter also includes at least one stunning painting, visually representing the individual animal inside its established story.

In a way, it is difficult to explain what Tan has created. On the surface, Tales from the Inner City sounds like it could be a child’s book. In reality, it is one of the most complex works I’ve ever read. The animals’ representation not only conveys their own beauty, but Tan also uses their characteristics to state subtle comments about humans and their behavior. For example, in the pages dedicated to a parrot, Tan expresses that humans are fascinated by the birds because humans love to talk and enjoy the entertainment of tricks.

Tan’s painting of man and parrot

Tan’s talents are two-fold in Tales from the Inner City. His writing is spectacular, layered, and full of imagery so complex, it leaves the brain reeling. Really, I would’ve been so pleased by his words, alone, but Tan didn’t stop there. His paintings are moving and captivating–a wonderful addition and visual accompaniment to his texts.

When reading Tales from the Inner City, you must have an open mind and room for concentration. It’s a heavy one that takes brain power to appreciate. But it is so worth the effort. The only desire that was not met for me was a sense of cohesion between the stories, but that is a personal preference of mine. I was still able to appreciate Tan’s work as one of my favorite books of 2018.


Tales from the Inner City hits shelves on September 25th, 2018, but you can pre-order your copy now via Amazon.

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.

(photo source)

By Lara

20-something. TV addict. Reader. Writer.

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