Q

Reviewed by Dedi Felman

Image of Q

Luther Blissett is a Jamaican soccer player who, when acquired by the team AC Milan in the early 1980s, saw his career plummet as he was subjected to the sarcasm and racism of Italian soccer fans. His sorry tale inspired a group of Italian artists to take on his name and start a project that ranges from media hoaxes to literary fiction. Now there are Luther Blissetts writing, painting and scheming all over the world. In the mid 1990s, four young members of the group who live in Bologna wrote a novel, Q, which was published by Einaudi and is still on the Italian bestseller lists today. Q traces the adventures and philosophical conflicts of two rivals in Reformation Europe: an Anabaptist student of Thomas Muntzer and a papal informer, Q. As these archenemies struggle to find out the other's identity, they travel throughout Europe, making new friends and foes, fighting a new political or moral battle in every city, coming closer and moving apart, consumed by their hatred for each other and by the complexity of their convictions. In the tradition of Umberto Eco, Luther Blissett blends fact and fiction to bring to life a vivid world of politics and intrigue, passion and betrayal, with such powerful prose that it grabs you by the throat, and you can't stop reading. Q has been translated into ten languages and has become a cult bestseller in Europe; Shaun Whiteside's English translation is a finalist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Meanwhile, the four young men from Bologna have written two other novels under the pseudonym Wu Ming, which means "no name" in Mandarin Chinese.