The Hummingbird

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781474617505

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‘Everything that makes the novel worthwhile and engaging is here’

‘Not since William Boyd’s Any Human Heart has a novel captured a single life with such invention and tenderness’
Financial Times

‘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’
The Sunday Times

Ian McEwan

‘A real masterpiece’
Leïla Slimani

‘A remarkable accomplishment, a true gift to the world’
Michael Cunningham

‘Ardent, gripping, and inventive to the core’
Jhumpa Lahiri

Marco Carrera is ‘the hummingbird,’ a man with the almost supernatural ability to stay still as the world around him continues to change.
As he navigates the challenges of life – confronting the death of his sister and the absence of his brother; taking care of his parents; raising his granddaughter; coming to terms with his love for the enigmatic Luisa – Marco Carrera comes to represent the quiet heroism that pervades so much of our everyday existence.
A surprising and deeply moving reinvention of the family saga, this is a thrilling novel about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end.


A wonderful book that covers so many bases, while the protagonist keeps his position and moves little in relation to all that is happening around him - he is 'the hummingbird'. The structure is inventive and varied, and contains a rainbow of emotions, played pizzicato across a lifetime of families at their best and worst. It's wry, eccentric, perceptive, creative, nostalgic - you name it, there's many a bell inside the pages that will ring just for you. It really is as good as the stellar list of authors on the back (Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobsen, Jhumpa Lahiri etc) who line up to sing the praises of both the author and this extraordinary book
I love The Hummingbird. A real masterpiece. A funny, touching, profound book that made me cry like a little girl on the last page.
Leïla Slimani
A tender, beguilingly epic novel... The complex, subtle design of the novel, with a patchwork of key episodes moving back and forth through time, and its textual variety - partly made up of letters, emails, transcripts of phone calls - disguise its saga-like scale, its epic proportions catching you off guard. It's almost only once you emerge from its acutely painful ending that you realise how much of life you have witnessed - the vastness, as well as the richness, of the story.
An inventive, a beautiful, complex book.
A masterpiece of love and grief ... 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 ... what makes the book special is that The Hummingbird is such an intelligent meditation on life, family, the human heart and the "dictatorship of pain" that comes with grief
Instantly immersive, playfully inventive, effortlessly wise... a family saga that pays homage to the quiet heroism required by day-to-day existence
Hephzibah Anderson, THE OBSERVER
Much more than a novel about a family - which its deceptively unadorned surfaces might suggest it to be - The Hummingbird portrays a subtle and intriguing political vision, depicting the reach of history into the lives of people we might well believe are outside history's notice.
Richard Ford
Outstanding. A perturbing masterpiece. Absolute beauty in the smallest detail.
The Hummingbird is a profound story about the myriad ways in which human passions collide with forces beyond human control. From its first page to its last, it's as full of surprises as it is jolts of recognition. Sandro Veronesi has overcome the ultimate, and most difficult, of any novelist's challenges-created a story of such depth and scope that it can stand unembarrassed alongside life itself. It's a remarkable accomplishment, a true gift to the world.
Michael Cunningham
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
The Hummingbird is a book full of that roller-coaster ride that is life itself, a succession of defeats and unexpected ascents. Crucially, this is a novel that has the courage to pass the baton to the new generations: in the sea of cynicism in which we all risk to drown, it gives us a glimpse of a possible new future.
Nicola Lagioia, author of FEROCITY (winner of the Premio Strega)
A great novel, vibrating with life and death, happiness and pain, nostalgia and hope for the future.
An extremely beautiful and generous novel about time, family, home, love and loss, passion and pain. Funny, heart-breaking, eccentric, tender and completely brilliant. A triumphant, life-affirming novel. Now I want to read everything by Sandro Veronesi.
Edward Carey, author of LITTLE
Everything that has made Veronesi one of the greats is distilled in The Hummingbird - just more mature and ambitious.
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 author of TIES and TRICK
Long considered one of Italy's leading writers, Sandro Veronesi has dazzled both readers and critics with novels that are not only page-turners but profoundly literary. An heir to Italo Svevo, he explores, from book to book, intergenerational conflict, existential anguish and the passage of time. These themes, in Veronesi's hands, burst with vitality. Trained as an architect, he plays inventively with form, producing works that are unconventional, disarming, and profoundly humane. With his latest novel, The Hummingbird, he has re-written the family saga. Ardent, gripping, and inventive to the core, it has already been hailed a classic.
Jhumpa Lahiri
No other writer in Italy today can tell a story like Sandro Veronesi.
Powerful and seductive.
Reading The Hummingbird is a spellbinding experience; it's so clever, funny and deeply moving.
Roddy Doyle
Reading The Hummingbird is like getting on a rollercoaster: it's a vertiginous ride - almost to the point of physical pain - and then you are left in a state of wonder.
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.
Sandro Veronesi is a writer I have always admired. He's funny, smart, rueful, deeply feeling. The Hummingbird stands with his finest work. It's some of the most poignant contemporary writing I know of.
Rick Moody
Sandro Veronesi's captivating novel is at once a gripping tale of family bonds and a provoking meditation on fate and choice, suffering and endurance, love and hatred, and the elusive nature of happiness. I greatly admired its wit and erudition and its deep charm.
James Lasdun, author of SEVEN LIES
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
The novel flits back and forth between multiple decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the narrative is interspersed with letters, emails and transcripts of telephone conversations. Instead of the familiar pattern of trauma, grief and healing, everything seems to happen at once and, indeed, keeps happening. Relationships end before they begin, characters die and are resurrected, only to die again. The reader's foreknowledge of certain events could rob the plot of suspense, but Veronesi uses dramatic irony to poignant effect, and still manages plenty of twists and revelations... Excellent: Marco Carrera is a compelling main character, a devoted father an oblivious husband, a dutiful son and an inadequate brother. The novel's conclusion is a beautiful study of the resilient bonds of flawed love.
Veronesi's novel has been hotly anticipated by English readers. The bird of the title is Marco Carrera, blessed with the gift of being able to stay still while the world around him turns to chaos. Life-affirming
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 humour, 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
Christian House, FINANCIAL TIMES
A big name in European literature ... Veronesi originally trained as an architect and, rather marvellously, it shows: the structure is inventive, bold, unexpected - slightly bonkers but elegant, and cohesive ... 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
Sandro Veronesi is a gracious, generous and mature writer, and under his guidance the many narrative devices and chronological leaps back and forth (also into the future) grow and mature into a remarkable novel. This piecemeal approach shouldn't work, but Maestro Veronesi is in control: it's a clever structure and the plot twists and turns and thunders along. 'Il Colibrì' won the 2019 Premio Strega, Italy's top literary prize, and thanks to Elena Pala (who was obviously born to translate this novel) it has become The Hummingbird. It is Veronesi's ninth novel and his second Strega. If you don't yet know the work of one of Europe's finest writers, start here
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