SBS Online launches interactive graphic novel, The Boat.

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and Vietnamese resettlement in Australia, SBS has released an interactive graphic novel.

The Boat, based on a novel by Nam Le, tells the story of 16-year-old Mai, whose parents make the decision to send her alone on a boat after the fall of Saigon. New York based Australian artist Matt Huynh, whose parents left Vietnam for Australia in the years following the fall of Saigon, has created the illustrations.

Marshall Heald, Director of TV and Online at SBS said: “The Boat is another great example of how SBS is delivering our charter in original new ways – a powerful short fiction story adapted into an animated and interactive graphic novel exclusively distributed over the web. This project reaffirms our commitment to being Australia’s most innovative multi-platform broadcaster.”

Illustrator Matt Huynh said: “The Boat is the most urgent and immediate comic I’ve ever made – a work of a kind I’ve never quite seen before and a unique chance to engage an issue so entangled with my own life. It’s a work that deals not in metaphor or analogy, not exclusively fiction or history and impossible to segment artist from subject. This resulting work is proof of my life, luck, of a country’s compassion for people in the most vulnerable of circumstances over 40 years ago and our urgent, unavoidable connection to today’s asylum seekers and refugees.”

Author Nam Le said: “An astounding and original piece of work: Matt Huynh and the team at SBS have taken a short story and shifted it into another register. The result is strange and powerful; more importantly, it opens up new ground. I’m thrilled to be part of it.”

Nam Le was born in Vietnam and raised in Australia. His first collection of short stories, The Boat was translated into 14 languages and received over a dozen major awards in Australia, America and Europe, including the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the PEN/Malamud Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. The Boat was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and Editor’s Choice, the best debut of 2008 by New York Magazine and the Australian Book Review, and a book of the year by over thirty venues around the world including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian, The Independent, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, The National Post, The Monthly, Amazon, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.

Matt Huynh is a Vietnamese-Australian artist based in Brooklyn, New York. His comics and illustrations are informed by sumi-e painting and shodo calligraphy. His clients include the New York Times, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Lucky Peach and Adobe. Creative Sydney Festival named him one of Sydney’s most innovative cultural contributors for his graphic novel work. His work appears in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection and his comics have been presented on the Sydney Opera House stage.

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