A wordless graphic novel by Shaun Tan about a nameless immigrant in a strange land. Drawn in beautiful hyper-realism, the book incorporates fantastical landscapes and an invented alphabet to convey the confusions of a new place and unfamiliar language.
This work contains examples of the following tropes:
- An Immigrant's Tale: With the twist that the place he's immigrating to (and the one he's immigrating from) isn't at all real.
- Book-Ends: Near the beginning of the novel, the confused protagonist asks a stranger for directions; at its end, his daughter gives directions to a newcomer.
- Empathy Pet: A common feature for the citizens of the Immigrants' new city, as many of the people we see are accompanied by whimsical-looking creatures. The protagonist soon picks up one of his own.
- Fish out of Water
- Funny Foreigner: The protagonist, at first and from the point of view of others.
- No Name Given: None of the characters are named.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The odd mouse-tadpole thing◊ that the Immigrant befriends over the course of the book.
- Scenery Porn: It's Shaun Tan, what's your next question?
- Shout-Out: The book contains a number of visual references to famous images and landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Titanic newsboy
- Show, Don't Tell: Heavy reliance on visuals and no written words. Even the texts appear in this book are completely alien and made up by the artist. The imagery allows us to emphasize with the main character and his journey into a new world that will be his new home for his family.
- World of Symbolism