Big in Japan

This year’s award recipient, Shaun Tan, has just come back from a trip to Japan. And of course the award office could not resist asking him about his impressions after this exciting journey.
We were very impressed by the hospitality of our hosts and all the new aspects of Japanese culture we discovered, from food to fashion, temple shrines and weird toys, and look forward to returning again sometime.

Photo: Stefan Tell

First Shaun visited Osaka, and gave a lecture and workshop for children arranged by the International Insitute for Children’s Literature Osaka (IICLO), then he continued to Toyko, a trip organised by JBBY (the Japanese IBBY). He also did a few days of comprehensive interviews arranged by his principal Japanese publisher. Many journalists, from manga, animation, children’s lit and mainstream newspapers, magazines and TV, mentioned a connection between The Arrival and the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters, where many people have been displaced.

The book seems to have a strong resonance for this reason. My other Japanese publisher, Imajinsha, has also provided many copies of The Red Tree free to victims of the crisis, and libraries which suffered damage; I also provided an English reading that can be activated by readers using a small device that comes with the book.

Shaun Tan’s had an extremely hectic year. Before the Japan trip, he visited the Edinburgh Book Festival, and had a small exhibition opening in London, at a place called The Illustration Cupboard. A bigger retrospective of his work has just opened recently at Städtische Galerie Rosenheim, having traveled to other German galleries over the past two years.

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