Måndagsmöte: Shaun Tan « Bokhora


04/06 2012

Shaun Tan är illustratör och författare och han är definitivt med på min topp tio-lista av bästa författare. Hans texter är smarta, roliga, vemodiga, kluriga, absurda och alldeles alldeles underbara. ”Tales from outer suburbia” kommer på svenska i höst, med namnet ”Berättelser från yttre förorten”. Det är min favoritbok av Shaun Tan. Det är fantastiskt fint att läsa att Shaun Tan skrev den medan han läste Haruki Murakami och att Tans bok nog är lite inspirerad av Murakami. ”Tales from outer suburbia”/”Berättelser från yttre förorten” måste alla läsa. M å s t e. Jag är mycket glad att Shaun Tan ville svara på mina frågor och när hans mejl damp ner i min inbox markerade jag det som oläst direkt så att det låg överst bland alla mejl och gjorde mig helt varm i bröstet varje gång jag loggade in.

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.
You write such wonderful illustrated novels, where from do you get all your ideas?
Usually from very small and ordinary things, and very often from drawing or writing accidents. It’s very similar to when you mis-hear what somebody is saying, so that it seems quite absurd. Instead of censoring those errors I tend to think about them for longer than usual, in case they reveal a new way of looking at the world. Most of the time these ‘mistakes’ are visual, and can come from a sideways glance or a scruffy doodle that looks like something unexpected. The other main source for ideas comes from research. ”The Arrival” for instance is based on real-life migrant stories. Research can be seen as another kind of accidental discovery too, it’s something that leads my thinking in a new direction.
When you’re working with one of your novels, what do you do first: draw or write?
It’s either, though more often than not begins with an image (either drawn or mental). Writing then takes over as a way of structure ideas in a sequence, which is harder to do visually. And then I usually end with painting, which for me captures the emotional ambiguity of an idea a little more effectively than writing alone.
What genre do you prefer to read and why?
I don’t have a great preference. I grew up reading a lot of science fiction reader, as well as ‘realist’ writers like John Steinbeck, and now like anything that’s somewhere in between. I enjoy magic realism, where strange things happen but in a very matter of fact or ordinary way. Then I also read a lot of graphic novels or any unusual illustrated literature, whether it be for children or adults; and also books about science and history.
Is there a specific book or writer that has changed, or at least affected, the way you look upon the world?
There are a few. When I was younger, Ray Bradbury was a big influence. His stories were science fiction but also too absurd for science, more like fairy tales for adults which inspired me to begin writing in my early teens. In fact ”Tales from Outer Suburbia” is a bit like Bradbury’s ”The Illustrated Man” or ”The Silver Locusts”. More recently I’ve been quite affected by Cormac McCarthy’s ”The Road”, with its bleak vision of a world filled with absence, where inner truth rises when things are stripped back. It’s a book that really makes you appreciate the existence of taken-for-granted things like sunshine, food and civilised behaviour! It’s both an affirmation and warning about human nature.
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.
2 kommentarer

2 kommentarer till Måndagsmöte: Shaun Tan

  1. Shaun Tan är fantastisk duktig. Hans böcker är ju helt underbara. Min egen favorit är Det röda trädet, men alla de böcker jag har läst än så länge har varit jättebra!

  2. […] the entire interview here. Shaun Tan, ALMA award week 2011. Photo: Stefan […]

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