Monday meeting with Shaun Tan

Jessika Karlsson at the Swedish literature blog Bokhora asked last year’s ALMA recipient Shaun Tan a few questions.

Dear Shaun Tan. What are you reading right now?

A few different things. One is a book of wordless woodcut stories by Lynd Ward produced in the 1930s. I’d never really seen these before although they were mentioned often to me by readers of my own wordless graphic novel ”The Arrival”, and I can see there are many similarities. I’m also reading ”1Q84″ by Haruki Murakami, having read a lot of his other books full of contemporary Japanese surrealism. I was reading ”The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” and ”After the Quake” when writing ”Tales from Outer Suburbia”, so there may even be some small influence there.

Do you read a lot of translated literature, and if so, what are your favorites?

Murakami as mentioned above – the colloquial style seems to translate well from Japanese to English.  I’ve also read quite a few Latin American writers recently, and there are a lot of good French graphic novels and good German picture books.

The importance of reading is often debated. Why do you think it is important to read?

Having worked across different areas, including film (which in some ways is the dominant storytelling medium of our age) I’m reminded of how unique the experience of reading books can be. It seems much more co-creative, in the sense that the reader must ‘direct’ the story to some extent, and this draws to the surface a lot of personal memories and inventiveness. Reading is one of the best ways of educating ourselves about who we are, what we think, what we care about and the power to imagine an alternative existence.

Read the entire interview here.

Shaun Tan, ALMA award week 2011. Photo: Stefan Tell.




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