• The Fiction Fox

Review: Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan


Genre: Short-story collection Published: Arthur A. Levine Books, September 2018 My rating: 5/5 stars


Beautiful in so many ways...

Tales from the Inner City is a short story collection by author and illustration Shaun Tan, who has combined his talents in both these fields to create a book that is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside.

Shaun Tan is known for his (for the lack of a better word) “experimental” work, and this signature style can be found in this collection as well. His stories are surrealist, without falling in the trap of being “ quirky for the sake of it”. On the surface, each one appears to focus on a different animal featured in it. At the same time, each story is a portrayal of a very human experience or emotion, that many of us will be able to relate to. Some of my favorite stories were: “cat”, “dog”, “moonfish”, “tiger”, “bees” and especially “Owl”, which really got under my skin based on my own personal experiences with childhood illness.

The beauty of all these stories is in the way the pictures and words combine to form a unique and more intense, reading experience. Well written as they are, the stories by themselves would have probably gotten a 3.5 star rating on average for me. The illustrations are stunning, but would have been a 4 star on their own. It’s the synergy of both of them combined that makes this collection a full and well deserved five-star that I would love to revisit again in the future.


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