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The Hummingbird: A Novel (Paperback)
“The Hummingbird is a remarkable accomplishment, a true gift to the world.” —Michael Cunningham
“Long considered one of Italy's leading writers, Sandro Veronesi has re-written the family saga. Ardent, gripping, and inventive to the core, it has already been hailed a classic.”—Jhumpa Lahiri
"The Hummingbird is a masterly novel, a brilliantly conceived mosaic of love and tragedy."—Ian McEwan
The #1 international sensation from a master of European literature—winner of Italy’s Premio Strega—a saga of a Florentine family from the 1960s to the present that brilliantly captures the power of history and the multi-faceted experience of life itself as it explores how we contend with uncontrollable forces that both buffet and buoy us.
Marco Carrera is “the hummingbird,” a man with an almost supernatural ability to remain still amid the chaos of an ever-changing world. Though his life is rife with emotional challenges—suffering the death of his sister and the absence of his brother; caring for his elderly parents; raising his granddaughter when her mother, Marco's own child, is no longer capable; loving an enigmatic woman—Marco carries on with a noble stoicism that belies an intensity for living. As the years pass and the arc of his life bends, Marco finds himself filled with joy for the future as the baton passes from him to the next generation.
A beautiful and compelling journey through time told in myriad narrative styles, The Hummingbird is a story of suffering, happiness, loss, love, and hope—of a man who embodies the quiet heroism that defines daily life for countless ordinary folk. A thrilling novel about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end, Sandro Veronesi’s masterpiece—eminently readable, rich in insight, and filled with interesting twists and revelations—is a portrait of human existence, the vicissitudes and vagaries that propel and ultimately define us
Translated from the Italian by Elena Pala
"A great novel, vibrating with life and death, happiness and pain, nostalgia and hope for the future." —Vanity Fair
"Everything that makes the novel worthwhile and engaging is here ... magnificent – moving, replete, beautiful." —The Guardian
About the Author
Sandro Veronesi is one of Italy’s most acclaimed writers of literary fiction, as well as a poet, essayist, journalist, and playwright. He is the author of nine novels, including Quiet Chaos, which was translated into twenty languages and won the Premio Strega, the Prix Fémina, and the Prix Méditerranée. Veronesi is only the second author in the Premio Strega's history to win the prize twice.
"The Hummingbird is a masterly novel, a brilliantly conceived mosaic of love and tragedy. Veronesi creates a thought-rich and ultimately comic meditation on human error and lost chances. It’s a cabinet of curiosities and delights, packed with small wonders, strange and sudden turns, insights of great poise and unusual cultural reference points. The Hummingbird in an object lesson in authorial control. Veronesi truly knows and loves all matters of the heart."
— Ian McEwan
"I have known for quite some time that Sandro Veronesi was one of the most skillful and profound Italian storytellers of the past thirty years. But The Hummingbird is the decisive proof of his sensitivity, of his extraordinary strength as a writer."
— Domenico Starnone, National Book Award Finalist
"Somehow or other Sandro Veronesi pulls off the extraordinary feat of making you believe he is writing for your ears alone. I cannot tell you what The Hummingbird is about because that would be to betray a confidence. But I can tell you it's a mightily clever novel." — Howard Jacobson, Winner of the Booker Prize
"A great novel, vibrating with life and death, happiness and pain, nostalgia and hope for the future."
— Vanity Fair
"Reading The Hummingbird is not just a moving experience: it's almost like a therapy session, a lesson in persevering, in letting go of guilt to find ourselves again."
— Huffington Post
"Outstanding. A perturbing masterpiece. Absolute beauty in the smallest detail."
— Corriere della Serra
"No other writer in Italy today can tell a story like Sandro Veronesi."
— La Stampa
"Powerful and seductive."
— La Repubblica
"Instantly immersive, playfully inventive, effortlessly wise... a family saga that pays homage to the quiet heroism required by day-to-day existence."
— The Observer (London)
"Everything that makes the novel worthwhile and engaging is here: warmth, wit, intelligence, love, death, high seriousness, low comedy, philosophy, subtle personal relationships and the complex interior life of human beings ... magnificent – moving, replete, beautiful."
— The Guardian
"Sandro Veronesi is a big name in European literature ... Veronesi originally trained as an architect and, rather marvelously, it shows: the structure is inventive, bold, unexpected - slightly bonkers but elegant, and cohesive ... [it] conveys life’s messy unpredictability: joy and desperation, simple pleasures, moments of transcendence, much reeling and confusion ... There is a pleasing sense of having grappled with the real stuff of life: loss, grief, love, desire, pain, uncertainty, confusion, joy, despair - all while having fun." — Sunday Times (London)
"A masterpiece of articulation ... a towering achievement ... Not since William Boyd’s Any Human Heart has a novel captured the feast and famine nature of a single life with such invention and tenderness. Veronesi explores, with great humor, how the passage of time both expands and expunges the impact of events. And, he suggests, after the pounding of years it is only an individual's character that determines whether or not the edifice will hold."
— Financial Times
“I love Sandro Veronesi’s book, The Hummingbird. A real masterpiece. A funny, touching, profound book that made me cry like a little girl on the last page.” — Leila Slimani, author of The Perfect Nanny
“Cleverly structured like a jigsaw puzzle … Veronesi’s dark modern chronicle shimmers with intelligence and flashes of pathos.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Veronesi has penned a powerful Shakespearean tale of one man’s life, filled with tragedy, loss, and star-crossed love." — Library Journal
“Jumping through time and unfolding through poetry, emails, postcards, and dialogue, the story is a celebration of hope and optimism in the face of terrible tragedy”
— Harper’s Bazaar
“Veronesi draws a sumptuous portrait of a character whose failings are his biggest charm and who wrestles with sibling and parental issues like most of us… A moving reminder that even the most ordinary lives are peppered with touches of the extraordinary." — Booklist (starred review)
“The Hummingbird is a moving, black-humored work about family and the tragedies born of time and poor decisions. Veronesi has created complicated characters that don’t always behave nobly, are products of their time and are, from a literary standpoint, the richer for it.” — BookPage
“…Mr. Veronesi is an expert at playing on the reader’s deepest fears and hopes in emotionally involving ways”
— Wall Street Journal
“How do you begin telling the story of a great love when you know it ended in disaster?” this novel asks... The temporal leaps, though sometimes disorienting, cunningly mimic the eddying, insistent nature of memory itself. — The New Yorker