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Twenty years ago I made Book from the Sky, a book of illegibleChinese characters that no one could read. Now I have created Book from theGround, a book that anyone can read.--Xu BingFollowing his classic work Book from the Sky, the Chinese artist Xu Bing presents a new graphic novel --one composed entirely of symbols and icons that are universally understood. Xu Bing spent sevenyears gathering materials, experimenting, revising, and arranging thousands of pictograms toconstruct the narrative of Book from the Ground. The result is a readable storywithout words, an account of twenty-four hours in the life of "Mr. Black," a typical urbanwhite-collar worker. Our protagonist's day begins with wake-up calls from a nearby bird and hisbedside alarm clock; it continues through tooth-brushing, coffee-making, TV-watching, andcat-feeding. He commutes to his job on the subway, works in his office, ponders various fast-foodoptions for lunch, waits in line for the bathroom, daydreams, sends flowers, socializes after work,goes home, kills a mosquito, goes to bed, sleeps, and gets up the next morning to do it all overagain. His day is recounted with meticulous and intimate detail, and reads like a postmodern,post-textual riff on James Joyce's account of Bloom's peregrinations in Ulysses.But Xu Bing's narrative, using an exclusively visual language, could be published anywhere, withouttranslation or explication; anyone with experience in contemporary life--anyone who has internalizedthe icons and logos of modernity, from smiley faces to transit maps to menus--can understand it.