A masterly visual storyteller

Shaun Tan is a masterly visual storyteller, pointing the way ahead to new possibilities for picture books. His pictorial worlds constitute a separate universe where nothing is self-evident and anything is possible. Memories of childhood and adolescence are fixed reference points, but the pictorial narrative is universal and touches everyone, regardless of age.

Behind a wealth of minutely detailed pictures, where civilization is criticized and history depicted through symbolism, there is a palpable warmth. People are always present, and Shaun Tan portrays both our searching and our alienation. He combines brilliant, magical narrative skill with deep humanism.
The citation of the jury

Illustrator and author from Australia, born in 1974.

Shaun Tan has illustrated more than 20 books, notable among them The Rabbits (1998), The Lost Thing (2000), The Red Tree (2001), The Arrival (2006) and Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008).

Shaun Tan has reinvented the picture book by creating visually spectacular pictorial narratives with a constant human presence. He uses a variety of means of artistic expression: lead pencil, Indian ink, coloured pencil, painting and various print techniques. Shaun Tan sees every book as an experiment in visual and verbal storytelling.

Shaun Tan also collaborates on animated film, musical and theatrical adaptations of his works, as well as producing fine art and murals.

Shaun Tan has received a number of literary awards, including the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2009 for Tales from Outer Suburbia and a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books award in 2007 for The Arrival. At this year’s Academy Awards, Shaun Tan won the Oscar for best animated short film for The Lost Thing, based on his book of the same title.

His works have been translated into more than 10 languages, including German, Swedish, Spanish and Chinese.