Re/Read: Daishu Ma’s Leaf

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Welcome back to Re/Read, an occasional column by Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid drawing attention to books that you may have missed or merit another look. This time we’ll focus on Chinese artist Daishu Ma’s graphic novel, Leaf.

This wordless story is set in a bleak urban village in the Chinese countryside where an inhabitant discovers a mysterious illuminated leaf amid the congested industrial landscape. His search for meaning leads him through a maze of mechanization that serves as a metaphor for traditional Chinese culture conflicting with contemporary ecological concerns and social identity. Ma’s sublime narrative and alluring rendering technique seamlessly draws the reader into her atmospheric world. Leaf serves as a testament to the ability of comix to convey complex concepts and overcome cultural barriers in an accessible manner. A truly transcendent work from Fantagraphics’ first Chinese cartoonist. Let’s hope for more.