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Altai

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,624 ratings  ·  141 reviews
«Che segno è quando un arcobaleno appare, non c'è stata pioggia e l'aria è secca e tersa?
È quando la terra sta per tremare, e il mondo intero vacilla».

Quindici anni dopo l'epilogo di Q.
Venezia, Anno Domini 1569. Un boato scuote la notte, il cielo è rosso e grava sulla laguna: è l'Arsenale che va a fuoco, si apre la caccia al colpevole. Un agente della Serenissima fugge ver
...more
Paperback, Stile libero Big, 411 pages
Published 2009 by Einaudi
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Clif Hostetler
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel set within the historical events in the Mediterranean from 1569 through 1571, beginning with the arsenal fire of Venice, moving on to the household of rich Jewish trader Joseph Nasi in Constantinople, from there on to the Ottoman invasion of Cyprus, on to the massacre following the surrender of Famagusta, then to the naval Battle of Lepanto, and thence back to Constantinople for a description of the consequences of the war.

The story follows a fictional character Emmanuele De Zan
...more
Malcolm
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of us in the English speaking world and elsewhere in western Europe convince ourselves that we've been at the centre of the world since the 16th century if not before, but how wrong we are. As John Darwin shows in his compelling After Tamerlane western Europe and its North Atlantic offshoots were marginal players in a world centred on west Asia and the tensions between the descendants of the eastern Rome (by this stage, Istanbul as the centre of the Ottoman world) and the resurgent but ...more
Liviu
This is a superb historical novel that follows the themes of Q and we even get to see Q's hero a little more though he is not the main hero/narrator here; I hope it will get translated into English soon since my Italian is only so-so and I wish to make sure I got the finer points too.

Taking place from 1569-1571 so much more compressed in time than the sprawling Q (1519-1551 with an epilogue in 1555) and this time having the them the fate of Jewish refugees from all over Europe that find in Josep
...more
Liviu
I read the original Italian edition but now I want to see what I missed (as my Italian reading skills are moderate-to-low and Altai was the first complete book I read in Italian) so when i found about the recent release of the English language edition, that became a huge asap

see here for the impressions based on my Italian edition

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Finished the English edition and I discovered that I "got" the whole book in the Italian edition, so no surprises; this being sa
...more
Annie
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wu Ming is the pseudonym adopted by four Italian writers. Altai is their second book, after Q. Both are set in sixteenth century, in the chaotic world of empires and city states and religions and Reformation. Altai opens in 1568, when Venice’s arsenal explodes one bright morning. Emmuele de Zante leaps into action to find the culprits. When he reveals to his boss that it was just an attempt by the arsenal workers to get a raise, de Zante is told that Venice demands a “perfect culprit.” The explo ...more
Ajk
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: turania, fiction
I was really excited for this book, because Ottoman Empire + Central Asian falconry + Ottoman Jewry + potboiler spy novels + anarchist writer collectives is totally my venn diagram. So a warning to begin this: you may get less milage out of certain things than I did, just because you're not totally all about those topics like I am.

Pot-boiler spy novels with ~5-page chapters don't need a lot of help. Altai is long, but it's a quick read just because the pace keeps pumping and because the story go
...more
S.H. Villa
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wu Ming, meaning anonymous in Mandarin, is a collective of four (previously five) Italian writers. Opposing ‘toxic narrative’ which elicits fear, prejudice and inequality, they have chosen themes from history to illustrate the class struggle and its subtle and not so subtle machinations. Their stories invite us to open our eyes; to recognise resonances; to realise the choices we are making, and perhaps consider making a new choice.

Altai is not a sequel to Q (published under the name Luther Bliss
...more
Plamen Miltenoff
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
loved. great reading for Balkan, Mediterranean history students. I easily can organize an entire course around the book

One day I asked him how it was that what he had seen didn’t seem to have touched him.
He replied that, on the contrary his heart was in mourning. All the people who had died or suffered deserved to be remembered. God was the master of righteousness.
“My old shayk took the words of the prophet seriously: ‘Go and seek knowledge, even if it’s in China.’ He traveled for years, beyond
...more
Stephen
A good read but did not blow me away like its predecessor Q. Several reasons: 1) Much of the history presented I already knew from reading Roger Crowley's exceptional Empires Of The Sea: The Final Battle For The Mediterranean, 1521-1580. Crowley's book is in my opinion a far better read about this period. 2) I struggled with the conversion of Emmanuele De Zante from Venetian spy to Jewish champion and Ottoman sympathizer. It didn't feel like enough of a struggle. In fact, if I had written Altai ...more
Jim Swatton
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. But then again I love everything by Wu Ming. The book, centred on a Venetian fugitive becoming embroiled in a scheme to create a Jewish kingdom in Cyprus in the 1570’s, is a semi-sequel to their previous book 'Q' (written under the pseudonym Luther Blissett).

What I loved about the book is that it manages to combine a short snappy plot, (in an absolutely fascinating setting) with much bigger themes. Jewish identity(especially Sephardic), the conflict between Christian Europe and
...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Well it's not "Q" (although our hero does make an appearance). It's not that frenetic riot of religious and political radicalism that "Q" was but it IS about a vision; creating a home for the Jews. It drifts along at a gentle pace, like a camel crossing the desert or a felucca on the calm Mediterranean. We languish on soft, exotic pillows in a drug-infused haze beneath exotic skies barely disturbed by the call to prayer... But it begins with an explosion! A ship sails, in flames, through the sky ...more
Xanat
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-east
I really shouldn´t make a review, as I am sure my poor translation missed out the elegance and proper meaning of the Italian language. Still, I liked the sad image of the main character, so full of flaws. He had no place in the world and ended loosing everything. The portrait of Nassi makes me uncomfortable, though, as I am not sure which part is fiction and which one is reality. Everything else is well done. This is my first Wu Ming novel and I hope to keep following these authors in the future ...more
Eliz
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good story of the tensions the Jewish people had to endure during the early modern period. The interconnected communities and the shared forced conversions across much of Europe are displayed here while telling a very personal story of one man who converts to Christianity and then returns to his roots. The book is set in the Ottoman/Venetian war and Del Zante / Cardosos interacts with many historical characters and events.
Baba
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
The best thing about this book is the way it captures the transcultural richness of the Mediterranean world in the 16th century, just before the impending decline of the Ottoman and Venetian powers. Istanbul and the life of the nobles at the time are rendered in a skillful manner, albeit through a bit of an orientalist gaze.The story is also quite gripping and very filmic. It makes a good intro to "Club Med" if you want to read Braudel or Abulafia.
Barbara
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is described as a sequel to "Q", but it is much more of a swashbuckling adventure story which lacks the passion of the earlier novel. Once again, of course, the collective knows its history inside-out and has managed to create a vivid world. The narrator and the other main characters live in the pages and you grieve for them at the end. But compared with "Q", this has a much simpler structure and less depth. It certainly won't stay with me for the next week, like its predecessor did.
Inken
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I didn't actually finish this book, it was just taking so long to read that I've given up. This makes me very sad as I've been wanting to read this book for a really long time. It just couldn't hold my interest! I love historical fiction and the era is one that I didn't know much about so I was intrigued and looking forward to this novel, but it fell so short of expectation.

How can something that met all my reading requirements have been so difficult to get through?!

Jane Shallice
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Impressed by it but strangely did not relate it to Q by Luther Blissett which I seem to have read years ago and therefore cannot recall anything about it except that I thought it was very good. Q being one of those novels which you would recommend to friends. Altai is enmeshed in the Catholic Venetian power of the 16th century in its struggles with the Muslim world and the Jews who have been expelled from Spain.
Honoré
This is a marvellously crafted novel... which left me hungry for more, more of what Q was. The landscapes, the psychological meanderings, the colourful painting of deceit, treachery and cruelty, all is there and yet I was not convinced. Signor de Zante may just be a little too cool? Or the Ottoman fleet too easily vanquished? Something is missing from this book and I am not sure what it is.
Pam
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific. I'm ready to read more of this group - well-known and read in Italy! Happily, I know the Venetian history so it was especially interesting to read and 'alternate' view and context. It fits my own guessing about how history 'Really' looks.

I loved the subtle changing of the characters AND an alternate section. What an approach to writing ..
Matteo Centonze
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Not even remotely as good as the previous book Q. The story is not as deep and well developed and it lacks the characterization of each single character that made the first book so good. Nevertheless the history is respected and each single detail of the book demonstrate an accurate historical documentation.
Giuseppe Veltri
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful historical novel set up at the time of the struggle between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. I was in Istanbul recently and I could avoid of visiting some of the places mentioned in this great book.
Stantontas
Disappointed at first, though it picked up later on. Some of the prose felt clunky, not something I've seen with their books before. Still got the big ideas, tantalising glimpses of alternate possible pasts. But still no really good female characters.
Might give it another go after re-reading Q.
James
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The French call the sixteenth century 'le grand siecle', the great century. A century akin to a different planet, a world full of incredible splendour and unspeakable horror. The vivid truth of this is brilliantly depicted in this intriguing, moving novel.
Alessandro
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very nice follow-up to Q, maybe somewhat less detailed.
I really like the ability to sketch vivid images of places, battles and situation. You can almost feel the smells of Istanbul with Wu Ming.
Shabby
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The troy of Guiseppe Nassi, the famous spy lived in the Costantinople, in Ottoman era. The story is very well written. I read its original (italian version) and I suggest it to everybody,
Lucretius
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only gripe, coming from a re-read of "Q", is that is a bit short.
Rob Adey
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great sixteenth century thriller; a worthy coda to Q.
Dianne Goette
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent historical fiction. I found myself stopping and pondering on some sections. Vivid description of scenes which makes it a highly enjoyable read.
N
Not as good as Q with the some of the threat running through the book failing to materialise - but worth buying
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Wu Ming (extended name: Wu Ming Foundation) is the collective pen name of four Italian writers: Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Federico Guglielmi and Riccardo Pedrini, respectively known as "Wu Ming 1", "Wu Ming 2", "Wu Ming 4" and "Wu Ming 5". "Wu Ming" means "anonymous" in Chinese. Although their real names are not secret, the four authors never use them. The quartet was a quintet until 2008, ...more

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