Archive for the ‘Wu Ming’ Category

Boyd Tonkin reviews the new paperback edition of Manituana by Wu Ming in the Independent:

First known as “Luther Blissett”, Bologna’s fiction-writing collective return with a stylish, atmospheric and provocative saga set in British America in the years prior to the white-settler uprising of 1776.

There’s the rub: turning received ideas on their head, as ever, Wu Ming evoke the coming rebellion mostly through the eyes of the Mohawk nation loyal to George III, the “Great English Father”.

At the core of a sweeping, narrative, bursting with colour and character, stands the real-life war chief, Joseph Brant, stalwart but doomed in his defence of a threatened culture and society.

Quite how the Italian mavericks (here beautifully translated by Shaun Whiteside) conjure fiction of this strength and nuance from a collective remains a puzzle. But long may their drums beat.

Wu Ming are coming back to London to speak at Cafe Oto on 11 October and the British Library 13 October – details to come…

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Thomas Müntzer, the radical Reformation-era pastor, was executed 485 years ago today for his part in leading the Peasants’ War in Germany in 1524.

Next month Verso publishes Thomas Müntzer’s Sermon to the Princes as part of the Revolutions series It gathers some of his most rousing sermons and his final confession before he was brutally beheaded on 27th May 1525.

The book features an introduction by Wu Ming, the Italian writer’s collective, Wu Ming (formerly Luther Blissett), examining how Müntzer has continued to inspire radicals and visionaries for nearly 500 years. It also has a preface by Alberto Toscano.

Here’s a sample of Müntzer’s fiery rhetoric:

Freely and boldly I declare that I have never heard a single donkey-c*nt doctor of theology, in the smallest of his divisions and points, even whisper, to say nothing of speaking loudly, about the order (established in God and all his creatures). The most prominent among the Christians (I mean the hell-based parsons) have never even had a whiff of the whole or undivided perfection, which is a uniform measure superior to all parts, 1 Corinthians 13, Luke 6, Ephesians 4, Acts 2, 15, and 17. Again and again, I hear nothing form the doctors of theology but the mere words of Scripture, which they have knavishly stolen from the Bible like malicious thieves and cruel murderers. They will be damned for this theft by God himself…

Wu Ming’s latest novel, Manituana, is published in paperback in July, and Alberto Toscano’s Fanaticism is out on 7th June.

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Clare Fermont reviews Manituana for the Socialist Review:

Manituana paints a vivid picture of life at the time and successfully weaves together the culture, traditions and particularly the languages of the Six Nations and the various European settlers living among them. It challenges many myths. … What is certain is that Manituana introduces us to some extraordinary women and men from a little known chapter of history, which exposes the ever grubby and cruel nature of colonialism and capitalism.

Read the full article here.

Wu Ming is a collective of five Italian fiction writers, founded in Bologna in January 2000. Their books include the bestselling novel Q, under the previous pseudonym of Luther Blissett, and ’54. Their website is www.wumingfoundation.com. Manituana’s fully interactive website is www.manituana.com. Wu Ming Presents Thomas MüntzerSermon to the Princes is forthcoming in Verso’s Revolutions Series.

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Stephen Howe in the Independent’s best history books of the year:

Jordan Goodman, in The Devil and Mr Casement: A Crime Against Humanity (Verso, £17.99), explores one of the earliest great modern human-rights campaigns: Roger Casement’s crusade against exploitation and near-genocide in the Putumayo between Colombia and Peru.

Boyd Tonkin in the Independent’s best general fiction of the year:

… As did the overthrow of American revolutionary myths in Manituana (trans. Shaun Whiteside; Verso, £14.99). Here the Italian “Wu Ming” collective craft a splendidly surprising, Mohawk-centred view of white colonists’ rebellion against the “Great English Father”, George III.

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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.

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Todd McEwen reviews Wu Ming’s Manituana for the Guardian:

The mysterious Italian collective mix history with video-games:

Most efforts of this sort have been intent on producing bad novels – Naked Came the Stranger? The horror, the horror! WuVerso 978-1-84467-342-1 Manituana small Ming, on the other hand, squeeze every potential for incisive, rabid adventure they can out of the popular novel. Their books sizzle with a kind of lefty jazz: they’re linguistically and culturally hip, historically astute, with a heart worn challengingly on the sleeve…

Manituana unspools mesmerisingly like an old Hollywood movie, ducking the common mishaps of the historical novel – there is not a single longueur. The descriptions of American abundance are worthy of Washington Irving, with a fall chill punchy as a stanza of Longfellow or a Remington painting of woods. The story is governed by the Indian sense of time, always returning to the reckoning of autumn. But events develop and are communicated at surprising speed: messengers are hunted bloodthirstily through forests, and in Molly Brant’s powerful, ornate telepathies Brant and his comrade Lacroix learn the fate of their people before it occurs, although Brant refuses to accept it…”

Read the full review here.

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Verso 978-1-84467-342-1 Manituana smallA wonderful review of Manituana in today’s Independent by Boyd Tonkin:

The cabal’s greatest, most mesmerising trick of all has been to fashion novels of true originality and page-riffling appeal. How do they do it? The official version speaks of the sturdy virtues of co-operative work, with each individually-authored section given close scrutiny by other members of the collective until a final draft pleases the whole pack. … [Manituana is] a fast-flowing, densely peopled, richly decorated story of a precious way of life, and thought, on the brink of the modern abyss.

And in the Daily Mail:

JOSEPH BRANT is chief of the Mohawks, part of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, a conferation of native indians in North America. For years they have lived peacefully side by side with the English colonists — until revolution comes. Allegiances begin to fall apart, and in 1775 Brant sets off for London to beg the King for a more robust show of support against the rebels. Wu Ming is a collective of Italian fiction writers, and one might think this could lead to a disjointed narrative, but this is far from the case. In seamless prose — thanks, no doubt in some part, to translator Shaun Whiteside — they have produced a highly compelling epic ofgreat beauty and power.

Also – have you investigated the Manituana website? Wu Ming have created an interactive website that offers background to the deeply researched novel, as well as ways of extending the world of Manituana. It includes:

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Ron Jacobs, the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, reviews Manituana for Dissident Voice:

Verso 978-1-84467-342-1 Manituana smallManituana is a true fourth world novel. It pits the original peoples of a nation against those who come to colonize it. It is the story of the multiple indigenous nations that existed on the American continent before the Europeans came and destroyed them. It is the story of India and the British Raj and it is the tale of the Algerian people and the French Republic’s colonization of that land. it is also the story of Israel and its ethnic transformation of Palestine into a Western settler state. In short, it is the tale of every people that has seen its land taken over by a European people as intent on making it their own as its original inhabitant are on preventing such an occurrence. This is also the story of America’s indigenous people being manipulated by the European colonists for the Europeans’ own ends. We see a mirror of this situation in today’s manipulations of the indigenous peoples in the lands the west wants as its own today: the Shia vs. Sunni conflict in Iraq and the manipulation of tribal conflicts in Afghanistan are but two examples that come immediately to mind. Manituana evokes the dangerous conceit of men who believe it is their destiny to rule the world…

The first novel of a trilogy that Wu Ming is calling the Atlantic Triptych,Manituana is virtually seamless and the translation is impeccable. It defines what the booksellers mean when they list something as literary fiction. It is a quality story that includes characters of depth, a good deal of action, a consistently thoughtful context and thought-provoking concepts — all presented in a fictional form.

Read the full review here.

Listen to Wu Ming talk about Manituana on The Strand, BBC World Service, here.

And continue the story of Manituana on the novel’s website.

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At the Wu Ming event at the ICA on Saturday the authors of Manituana Verso 978-1-84467-342-1 Manituana smallwere sharing the platform with living legend Stewart Home, artist and anti-novelist. You can read his blog post about the event here and read his thoughts on the book here. Finally, you can hear Stewart do a reading from the book here.

Don’t know who Stewart Home is? Shame on you! Read about him in the LRB, see Bill Drummond on him in the Guardian or see Iain Sinclair’s books Lights Out for the Territory and Hackney, That Rose Red Empire. And do read his excellent Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton.

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Last Chance to Catch Wu Ming in London:

Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 4 are on a remarkable London tour. They will be speaking about Manituana at the venues listed below. Catch them while you can!

  • Friday 16 October at 19.00 (Free)

The Big Green Bookshop, Unit 1, Brampton Park Road, Wood Green,London N22 6BG

Details: Big Green Book Shop/ or Telephone 020 8881 6767

  • Saturday 17 October at 19.00 (£10 / £9 concs / £8 ICA members)

    Wu Ming, Official Portrait

The ICA, London, SW1Y 5AH

Details: ICA/ or Telephone 0207 930 3647

Visit Wu Ming’s Website here.

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