Australian author Shaun Tan’s latest offering, Tales from Outer Suburbia, is a lovely, haunting book that captures the little oddities in everyday life that go unnoticed and unappreciated.
The story comes deceptively packaged as a children’s book, complete with gorgeous full-page illustrations. In fact, Tales from Outer Suburbia is a collection of short stories, ranging from a touching tale of a little alien exchange student to a heartbreaking account of a stranded dugong on the neighbour’s front lawn. Tan’s creative use of metaphor demonstrates the strangeness of daily events, creating a surreal vibe that leaves grey areas for the reader to fill in for themselves.
When asked how a surreal story about a man in an astronaut suit could be so poignant, Tan replied, “I notice that people can have very different reactions to these kinds of stories because there’s no single way of interpreting them.”
His lovely illustrations are just as emotive as the fantastically imagined stories, and the two come together to create an experience beyond what traditional novels can do. Tales From Outer Suburbia is strange and commonplace at once, reflective of our very own bizarre world.
Images courtesy of Shaun Tan