Wu Ming : biography
Wu Ming (extended name: Wu Ming Foundation) is a pseudonym for a group of Italian authors formed in 2000 from a subset of the Luther Blissett community in Bologna.
In their pre-Wu Ming days, the group wrote the novel Q (first edition 1999).
Unlike the open name "Luther Blissett", "Wu Ming" stands for a defined group of writers active in literature and popular culture. The band authored several novels, some of which have been translated in many countries.
Their books are seen as part of a body of literary works (the "nebula", as it is frequently called in Italy) described as the New Italian Epic, a phrase that was proposed by Wu Ming themselves., opening talk at the conference "The Italian Perspective on metahistorical fiction: The New Italian Epic", IGRS, University of London, October 2, 2008. Text and audio.
Members and public personae
The picture that Wu Ming used as an "official portrait" from 2001 to 2008, when the quintet became a quartet. As of January 14, 2009, the image is completely absent from the group's official website. The members of Wu Ming are typically known as "Wu Ming 1", "Wu Ming 2", "Wu Ming 3", "Wu Ming 4", and "Wu Ming 5". Real names are not secret though:
- Roberto Bui (Wu Ming 1)
- Giovanni Cattabriga (Wu Ming 2)
- Luca Di Meo (Wu Ming 3 – He left the group in the spring of 2008On September 16, 2008, Wu Ming's newsletter Giap announced that Luca Di Meo had left the band for personal reasons, and the separation had taken place in the previous springtime. Cf. , Giap no. 1, ninth series, September 2008.)
- Federico Guglielmi (Wu Ming 4) [Not to be confused with the Italian music journalist of the same name]
- Riccardo Pedrini (Wu Ming 5)
The five authors do extensive book tours (which they describe as "almost gratefuldeadesque", December 23, 2007. Probably a jocular reference to Californian rock band Grateful Dead's extensive touring and their close relationship with fans.) and frequently appear in public. However, they refuse to be photographed or filmed by the media. Even on their official website, they do not provide any pictures of themselves. Here is how Wu Ming 1 explained the group's stance in a 2007 interview:
In Wu Ming's official biographical page (Italian version), the collective denies rumors they once beat up a press photographer:
The solo novels
Starting from 2001, each individual member of Wu Ming also authored one or more "solo" novels. Some of them have been translated into other languages, but not yet in English.
Wu Ming 1 is the author of New Thing (2004), an "unidentified narrative object" blending fiction, journalism and free verse. It is an allegorical tale on free jazz and the 1960s, set in 1967 New York City and constructed around John Coltrane's final days. The French newspaper Le Monde described the book as "a choral novel, an inquiry, and a political jam-session loaded with syncopated poetry"., Le Monde des livres, August 24, 2007.
Wu Ming 2 is the author of Guerra agli umani [War on the Humans] (2004), a satire of primitivism and survivalism set on the Appennines in an undefined year. The main character and narrator is called Marco, but he nicknames himself "Marco Walden", after Thoreau's Walden. At the beginning of the book, Marco quits his job as a restroom cleaner at a big cemetery, because he wants to leave the city (presumably Bologna, although it remains unnamed), go to the mountains and become a "hunter-gatherer superhero".
Wu Ming 4 is the author of Stella del mattino [Star of the Morning] (2008). The novel is set in 1919 Oxford and centered around T.E. Lawrence suffering writer's block while working on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Among the characters Lawrence encounters in the book, important roles are played by writers J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and, most notably, Robert Graves. Wu Ming themselves described Stella del mattino as "the best solo novel ever manufactured in our smithy" and "a bridge between our collective and solo novels"., from Giap #22/23, May 2008.
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