Luther Blisset strikes again; the pseudonymous trickster anarchist collective from Bologna named after a West Indian footballer (it’s all ‘explained’ in the manifesto) is still at work. Now they’ve written a swashbuckling bestseller historical novel called Q:
Q has finally reached Britain, in Shaun Whiteside’s zippy and rumbustious translation (Heinemann, £14.99). Set in Germany, the Low Countries and Venice between the 1520s and 1550s, it dramatises the bloody popular revolts that accompanied (and challenged) Luther’s Reformation, and the Catholic undercover strategies that wrecked these radical movements. Imagine Umberto Eco’s knack for the swashbuckling thriller-of-ideas crossed with an artful touch of the Le Carrés, and you have a fair idea of the novel’s mood. ….
Q works like a charm as a sordid, splendid period romp that painlessly informs its readers about the theological strife that splintered Europe (and the banking networks that re-connected it). Yet the reasons why a bunch of Bolognese stirrers shoud seize upon this theme soon grow clear. Effectively, their novel also operates as an allegory of Italian leftist politics since the Seventies. Out of the chaos of Utopian gambits and guerrilla provocations, in a murk of subterfuge, an elite plan for a ‘new world order’ emerges.
Sounds great! Must remember to stick that in the wishlist.