Graphic Polyphony in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival


Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, vol.14, no.3, pp.396-407, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/21504857.2022.2131588
  • Journal Name: Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Art Abstracts, Art Source, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.396-407
  • Keywords: graphic novel, graphic polyphony, immigration, Mikhail Bakhtin, Shaun Tan, The Arrival
  • Kayseri University Affiliated: No


© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This study examines Shaun Tan’s The Arrival in the light of Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘polyphonic novel’ theory. For Bakhtin, a polyphonic novel depends on characters’ independence from each other’s reality and the author’s reality and their ability to reflect their voices which is consciousnesses. The reader witnesses a polyphonic dialogue composed of consciousnesses from different ideologies and understands how reality appears to each consciousness rather than a single reality. In this direction, it is possible to find the traces of the polyphonic novel in The Arrival. A dialogic reality called ‘graphic polyphony’ is discovered by closely reading the panels. Graphic polyphony is observed in which consciousnesses can independently talk about their immigration experiences. Furthermore, graphic polyphony can be unearthed in the metaphor of Shaun Tan’s fantastic animals. The study also highlights the optimistic image of immigration drawn with this polyphony technique. It is emphasised how the graphic polyphony in work involves the hope of a new world without authorization. Ultimately, this article shows that we can accept The Arrival as a polyphonic graphic novel portraying a utopian image of immigration. This polyphonic reading also provides an alternative to the ‘ideal immigrant’ readings made with postcolonial theories.