Where can we live if not in each other's shadow? World-renowned artist Shaun Tan applies his unique imagination to a reflection on the nature of humans and animals, and our urban coexistence. From crocodile to frog, tiger to bee, this is a dark and surreal exploration of the perennial love and destruction we feel and inflict - of how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse.
Tales from the Inner City is a masterful work, bearing all of Shaun Tan's trademark wit and poignancy in both its prose and exquisite illustrations.
Similar in format to Shaun’s incredible Tales from Outer Suburbia, which so many high schools have on booklists for lower secondary English, this book is hugely thought provoking.
The central theme is human interaction with animals or animals metaphorically replacing humans in strange city environs. Some stories are particularly short, while others are much more detailed, but either way, I marvelled at their strangeness while reading them and then realised that it is this very strangeness that makes each story so memorable.
Bears with Lawyers and Rhinoceros on the Freeway have particularly stayed with me as I write this two weeks after reading the book.
Thought provoking and typically wonderful illustrations enrich what is altogether a marvellous book.
With so many short stories that are fabulous discussion openers for many lower secondary English classes, I highly recommend it for all teenagers.
Reviewed by Rob