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The Financial Times, The Telegraph and Art Review on Wu Ming's Altai

Lewis Bassett21 May 2013

Edward Stourton, writing for the Financial Times, recommends readers take Wu Ming's latest novel Altai on vacation to Venice, Stephen Abell for The Telegraph is delighted by this "swashbuckling romp dreamed up by four Italian anarchists," while Stewart Home visits Bologna to discuss politics and history with the elusive writing collective for Art Review.

In his glowing review Stourton writes "Nothing is quite as it seems in the world you enter in this book. And yet it is a compelling page-turner in a surprisingly conventional way."

While over a couple of strong coffees, Home discusses Wu Ming's subversive side and the parallels between Altai and contemporary politics. He tells the authors "I quickly gave up trying to disentangle their fiction from historical fact because the two were so closely interwoven. There was a gleam in Wu Ming 1's eye when he replied: "That's because we worked the fiction into tiny historical cracks."

However Stephen Abell warns of the authors reputation, writing that "before we dismiss such needless pranking as the sort of Eurotrash post-modernism that gives contemporary fiction a bad name, there is the small matter of the novel itself. And Altai, just like Q, is a triumph of swashbuckling storytelling, a historical romp about the attempt to create a Jewish nation within the 16th-century Ottoman Empire."

Stourton takes a similar approach, writing "Altai is a great historical thriller and the prose has all the surface glitter of the Grand Canal or the Golden Horn. You can take or leave the hype about the authors and their artistic and political mission. For a city break in Venice, Dubrovnik or Istanbul, this is perfect read as it is."

Visit the Financial Times,The Telegraph and Art Review to read the articles in full.

Wu Ming and Stewart Home will be in conversation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, on June 1st. Full event details here. 

Filed under: reviews