Shaun Tan Profile

Much was made of Shaun Tan's book The Arrival, and rightly so. It picked up awards all over the place and is still in line for a few more. Tan's new book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, will be released in June by Allen and Unwin, and as a prelude, the artist/author is interviewed by Rosemary Neill in "The Australian".

"Suburbia," Tan reflects, "is often represented as a banal, quotidian, even boring place that escapes much notice. Yet I think it is also a fine substitute for the medieval forests of fairytale lore, a place of subconscious imaginings. I've always found the idea of suburban fantasy very appealing."

Tan argues that a double reality attends suburbia: it is highly visible but, at the same time, unseen. On the one hand, it's so familiar it's taken for granted; on the other, this familiarity means it is overlooked or ridiculed.

"I guess that's what happens in an urban-centric society," he shrugs. Nevertheless, he thinks "there is something unsettling about (life in the suburbs) from an aesthetic point of view, and also from a cultural point of view".

He feels new, fringe suburbs lend themselves to surreality because they lack a settled identity. For this Chinese-Australian author and painter, outer suburbia is as much a state of mind as a place: as he puts it, "somewhere close and familiar but also on the edge of consciousness (and not unlike outer space)".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 28, 2008 11:11 AM.

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