Wu Ming

No, it’s not a band, it’s a writer’s collective in Bologna, Italy. This is the group that has collaboratively authored several best-selling novles, including Q and ’54Q was published under the name “Luther Blissett” (after a “cultural guerilla warfare” project in 1994 where hundreds of people around Europe pulled off hoaxes using the name “Luther Blissett”). According to the Guardian newspaper, this was “a 650-page historical spy novel that used the Reformation as a multivalent allegory for the ups and downs of 20th century anticapitalism” (14 Nov 2009). Their later books were published under the name “Wu Ming” which they say means “anonymous” in Mandarin.

The group has five members and they often go by the names “Wu Ming 1”, “Wu Ming 2,” etc.  They don’t mind their identities being made public, but they won’t allow photographs or go on television; even their solo books are published under the Wu Ming name. The idea is to reject the myth of solo authorship.

How do they collaborate? They meet every day or two, and email constantly. Each word is edited by every member, so no one person’s “style” comes through; it is a collective style.

There are other successful writer’s collectives, like Hothouse in Britain; they won the 2007 Waterstone prize with their teenage novel Darkside. These examples challenge our notions of artistic vision and literary style; they question our myth of the writer as a solitary genius.

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