Review // Tales from the Inner City

Title: Tales from the Inner City
Author: Shaun Tan
Published: October 2018
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle-Grade and up
Genre: Fiction (Short Story collection)
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $35.00 AUD

I received a copy of Tales from the Inner City from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A stunning companion to Tales from Outer Suburbia, this collection of illustrated short stories is sure to delight Shaun Tan fans of all ages.

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.

When I first received Tales from the Inner City for review, I may have started dancing around the staff room at work, waving it around, because I was that excited. Shaun Tan has long been one of my favourite author/illustrator’s because of his detailed, beautiful and complex story-telling style.

Tales from the Inner City is a collection of short stories, each one featuring a different type of animal living within the ‘city’ – the place where humans and animals reside, sometimes with more success than others. The stories themselves offer a look at the way humans (and human choices) impact on wildlife – both in positive and negative ways. Some stories make you question the way we impact on nature, but others are uniquely hopeful in their outlook.

For me, it’s never a question of if I will like one of Shaun Tan’s books – I always love them – but rather a question of what will I take away from it, and how will what I take away from it be different to someone else?

The construction of the book itself is gorgeous. It’s a lovely hardcover (without dust-jacket) with thick, shiny pages to highlight Shaun Tan’s artwork. There’s no standard contents page for the short stories, rather, a page of animal silhouette’s with numbers on them to clue us in to the theme for each individual story and where we might find it. The end papers are gorgeous, and are a continuous wrap from front to back and you can feel the quality of the book.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but some of my highlights include the Moonfish, crocodiles, rhinosaurous and the bears (who have lawyers!). All of the stories are thought-provoking and will sit with readers for a long time after reading.

A must have for anyone who enjoys Shaun Tan’s work, and those who enjoy stories that make you think.

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