The Guardian’s Christopher Tayler writes about his visit to the Wu Ming collective in Bologna. In a piece entitled “A life in writing: Wu Ming”, Taylor discusses the group’s Luther Blissett years, Q, 54, and writing as a collective.
Manituana – which has just been published here, in a translation by Shaun Whiteside – is Wu Ming’s final novel written with Di Meo, who left the collective in 2008. Published in Italy two years ago, it’s concerned with the fortunes of the Iroquois groups who allied themselves with the British in the American war of independence, seeing the crown as a potential bulwark against the colonists’ territorial ambitions. As with all of their novels, it can also be read as a quizzical reflection on more recent history – in this case, the Bush administration’s inward-looking hyper-nationalism. “After the attack on Afghanistan,” Bui says, “and especially in the months before the second Gulf war, when there was a sharp difference of opinion about the ‘war on terror’ between the US and Europe, there was a journalistic metaphor: ‘The Atlantic ocean is widening.’ We started to reflect on that, and so we went back to the beginning of the relationship, when the US became the US – when it separated from Europe, in a way.”
The original idea was to write “alternative-reality fiction. We wanted to write a novel set in 1876, a century after the American revolution, but in an alternative reality where George Washington lost and the North American colonies are still part of the British empire.” “It was a great idea,” Guglielmi adds. “But we realised that the ‘what if?’ is inside the real history, the known history.” Bui takes up the thread: “The story of the American revolution is far more complex than the official mythological version, the myth of origins that’s told in movies such as The Patriot. If you take the point of view of black slaves on the plantations who enlisted in the British army because that was freedom for them, or of native Americans, the relationship between oppressors and oppressed is turned upside down. Shifting the point of view from the rebels to the native Americans was already an element of alternative reality, because it gave us the opportunity to tell the story in an unexpected way.”
Read the full article here.