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Il colibrì

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Marco Carrera, il protagonista del nuovo romanzo di Sandro Veronesi, è il colibrì. La sua è una vita di continue sospensioni ma anche di coincidenze fatali, di perdite atroci e amori assoluti. Non precipita mai fino in fondo: il suo è un movimento incessante per rimanere fermo, saldo, e quando questo non è possibile, per trovare il punto d’arresto della caduta – perché sop Marco Carrera, il protagonista del nuovo romanzo di Sandro Veronesi, è il colibrì. La sua è una vita di continue sospensioni ma anche di coincidenze fatali, di perdite atroci e amori assoluti. Non precipita mai fino in fondo: il suo è un movimento incessante per rimanere fermo, saldo, e quando questo non è possibile, per trovare il punto d’arresto della caduta – perché sopravvivere non significhi vivere di meno. Intorno a lui, Veronesi costruisce altri personaggi indimenticabili, che abitano un’architettura romanzesca perfetta. Un mondo intero, in un tempo liquido che si estende dai primi anni settanta fino a un cupo futuro prossimo, quando all’improvviso splenderà il frutto della resilienza di Marco Carrera: è una bambina, si chiama Miraijin, e sarà l’uomo nuovo. Un romanzo potentissimo, che incanta e commuove, sulla forza struggente della vita.


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Marco Carrera, il protagonista del nuovo romanzo di Sandro Veronesi, è il colibrì. La sua è una vita di continue sospensioni ma anche di coincidenze fatali, di perdite atroci e amori assoluti. Non precipita mai fino in fondo: il suo è un movimento incessante per rimanere fermo, saldo, e quando questo non è possibile, per trovare il punto d’arresto della caduta – perché sop Marco Carrera, il protagonista del nuovo romanzo di Sandro Veronesi, è il colibrì. La sua è una vita di continue sospensioni ma anche di coincidenze fatali, di perdite atroci e amori assoluti. Non precipita mai fino in fondo: il suo è un movimento incessante per rimanere fermo, saldo, e quando questo non è possibile, per trovare il punto d’arresto della caduta – perché sopravvivere non significhi vivere di meno. Intorno a lui, Veronesi costruisce altri personaggi indimenticabili, che abitano un’architettura romanzesca perfetta. Un mondo intero, in un tempo liquido che si estende dai primi anni settanta fino a un cupo futuro prossimo, quando all’improvviso splenderà il frutto della resilienza di Marco Carrera: è una bambina, si chiama Miraijin, e sarà l’uomo nuovo. Un romanzo potentissimo, che incanta e commuove, sulla forza struggente della vita.

30 review for Il colibrì

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    Sometimes a new novel is accompanied by so much advance praise it seems like a sure winner. So it can feel disconcerting to discover that after actually reading the book it hasn't worked for me. Jhumpa Lahiri states that Sandro Veronesi (winner of multiple literary prizes in his native Italy) is “long considered one of Italy's leading writers” and that “his latest novel 'The Hummingbird'... has already been hailed as a classic.” High praise for this book also comes from Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobs Sometimes a new novel is accompanied by so much advance praise it seems like a sure winner. So it can feel disconcerting to discover that after actually reading the book it hasn't worked for me. Jhumpa Lahiri states that Sandro Veronesi (winner of multiple literary prizes in his native Italy) is “long considered one of Italy's leading writers” and that “his latest novel 'The Hummingbird'... has already been hailed as a classic.” High praise for this book also comes from Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobson, Michael Cunningham, Richard Ford, Edward Carey and Edward Docx. It's described as a “reinvention of the family saga” and generally I really fall for multigenerational stories. So all the elements were in place for me to fall in love with this book, but I didn't. This naturally makes me wonder if I'm missing something or if my expectations were set too high. But generally I've found that no amount of overarching high praise will spoil my enjoyment of a book if it's actually good and “The Hummingbird” is a novel that I keep finding faults with the more I think about it. It traces the story of Marco Carrera by moving backwards and forwards in time from the 1970s all the way through into the future in 2030. He's a doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Though he's married and has a daughter, he's had to keep at arm's length the true love of his life Luisa who he maintains contact with over the years but, for complicated reasons, they can never be together. A crucial opening section recounts dialogue between Marco and Daniele Carradori, his wife Marina's psychoanalyst. Though their conversation breaks the trust a doctor should maintain with his patient they discuss Marina and continue to discuss her in the years following after Marco and Marina divorce. It made me really uncomfortable that Marina is described as suffering from severe mental health issues, yet we get little about her story beyond Daniele dismissively stating years later that he always knew she was a “lost cause”. Of course, Marina might have caused a lot of destruction and pain for those around her but the narrative doesn't grant us access to her position. It feels like the reader should only sympathise with Marco and the fact that life has trapped him in a situation where he can't be with the woman he truly loves. Read my full review of The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi on LonesomeReader

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    By now I have read 5 books by Veronesi, and my impression is almost always the same: the man can absolutely write, and at times offers literary fireworks (often very strong opening scenes); he also nicely incorporates philosophical or existential issues in his novels, which are experienced by his main characters in a very introspective way. All of this is captivating, but you are always left with the feeling that something is missing, that the stories keep rippling on the surface a bit too much By now I have read 5 books by Veronesi, and my impression is almost always the same: the man can absolutely write, and at times offers literary fireworks (often very strong opening scenes); he also nicely incorporates philosophical or existential issues in his novels, which are experienced by his main characters in a very introspective way. All of this is captivating, but you are always left with the feeling that something is missing, that the stories keep rippling on the surface a bit too much to turn them into real masterpieces. And that is also the case here, in a novel about the life of ophthalmologist Marco Carrera, a fairly ordinary man who has to deal with a considerable portion of suffering in his life. The composition of this novel is very particular: Veronesi has cut up Marco's life story into some 45 episodes, shaken up quite well through time. He also experiments with different forms, alternating dialogues, letters, chat sessions and ordinary narrative passages. This means that a lot of puzzle work is involved, especially in the beginning, at the expense of the content of the story. I must admit that because of that, the story only started to captivate a little halfway through. Until then, I noticed the very light narrative tone of Veronesi, which is strange, because quite a lot of sad things happen to the protagonist Marco, at a certain moment one disaster follows the other. But Marco seemingly struggles through them with a large dose of stoicism, very reminiscent of Williams' Stoner. Also, quite a few psychiatrists are involved, both for better and for worse (Veronesi clearly has a thing with psychoanalysis). When I finished the book, and looked back on the story, I noticed how unlikely the meandering life of Marco was, a bit soap-like in fact. And there are some story elements that are rather far-fetched, including a reference to Aztec culture, and a vague science fiction element (“the man of the future”, who happens to be his granddaughter). Also, the closing scene, with the great atonement at Marco’s deathbed, was a bit too corny for my taste. So once again: this certainly not is a bad book, Marco's life story is captivating, and the novel definitely contains passages that are literary resonating; but again, it is not the masterpiece that such an ingenious composition would suggest. (rating 2.5 stars)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Marco Carrera, the protagonist of award-winning Italian author Sandro Veronesi's new family saga novel, is the hummingbird. His is a life of continuous suspensions but also of fatal coincidences, atrocious losses and absolute loves. He never falls to the bottom: his is an incessant movement to remain still, steadfast, and when this is not possible, to find the stopping point of the fall - so that surviving does not mean living less. Around him, Veronesi builds other unforgettable characters, who Marco Carrera, the protagonist of award-winning Italian author Sandro Veronesi's new family saga novel, is the hummingbird. His is a life of continuous suspensions but also of fatal coincidences, atrocious losses and absolute loves. He never falls to the bottom: his is an incessant movement to remain still, steadfast, and when this is not possible, to find the stopping point of the fall - so that surviving does not mean living less. Around him, Veronesi builds other unforgettable characters, who inhabit perfect fictional architecture. A whole world, in a liquid time that extends from the early seventies to a dark near future, when suddenly the fruit of Marco Carrera's resilience will shine: she is a child, her name is Miraijin, and she will be the new man. The Hummingbird is playful, inventive, profound, uplifting and deeply moving: quite simply a masterclass in storytelling. I was captivated by the lyrical prose in this terrifically powerful tale, which enchants and moves, on the poignant force of life. Sometimes a piece of literature comes along, once in a Blue Moon, that reminds you of the cathartic and comforting power of stories and of the beauty of words in formation and its final section is one of the most enlightening and refreshingly optimistic visions of the near future I have read in a long time. It should also be added that it is impeccably translated too, which can make the world of difference. A tonic in these troubling times and a remarkable novel with an abundance of heart, soul and rich humanity between its pages. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    The hummingbird of the title (Il Colibrì in the original Italian) is the novel’s protagonist, Marco Carrera. His nickname is given by his mother, due to a physical condition which keeps him considerably smaller and shorter than average for his age-group. After an experimental treatment during his adolescence, Marco grows quickly and settles down to a more “normal” life, albeit one marked by several challenges and tragedies. Throughout, Marco, like the bird to which he is compared, shows a marked The hummingbird of the title (Il Colibrì in the original Italian) is the novel’s protagonist, Marco Carrera. His nickname is given by his mother, due to a physical condition which keeps him considerably smaller and shorter than average for his age-group. After an experimental treatment during his adolescence, Marco grows quickly and settles down to a more “normal” life, albeit one marked by several challenges and tragedies. Throughout, Marco, like the bird to which he is compared, shows a marked talent for staying still while everyone and everything around him changes. Veronesi gives us a life history of Marco and his family, against the backdrop of Italian contemporary events, from the sixties to the present, with a glimpse into an imaginary near future (the timeline of the novel ends with Marco’s death in 2029). This is an approach which, it seems to me, Italians are particularly good at, not only in the context of literature but also in movies. Despite my very amateur knowledge of Italian cinema, I can name, off the cuff, several films which also opt for this sort of narrative. Indeed, I found myself picturing The Hummingbird turned into a filmscript and started fantasizing about the actors I would choose for the cast of my imaginary film project. A quick internet search revealed that, predictably, I was hardly the first to come up with this idea. Veronesi’s book is already being turned into a movie by veteran director Francesca Archibugi, who has nicked some of the actors I had in mind... What is original about the novel is its postmodern structure. Passages in the third person alternate with letters, emails, lecture notes – even a furniture inventory and a list of science fiction volumes – to create a colourful and engaging mosaic. Interwoven as a running thread is an account of Marco’s more-or-less platonic relationship with his first and greatest love, Luisa, recounted through a lifetime’s erratic correspondence. I particularly liked the underlying humour – the therapist Carradori is a brilliant comedic creation, although he is also, quite surprisingly, a source of some of the wisest observations in the book. So is Carrera’s friend “L’Innominabile” (“The Omen”) Duccio. I was less convinced about the final parts of the book, for two reasons. First of all, Veronesi introduces quasi-fabulist elements which mark a rather incongruous departure from the largely realist (if not always completely realistic) approach adopted in the earlier part of the novel. I also felt the penultimate segment to be rather “manipulative”, uncomfortably hovering between sentiment and sentimentality, raising thorny ethical issues which are cursorily set aside in a wash of emotion. Reservations aside, I believe that this is a worthy winner of the prestigious Premio Strega (Veronesi's second win, after his 2008 success with Caos Calmo). The English edition which is being issued by W&N marks an auspicious debut for Elena Pala – this is her first book-length translation, although you certainly wouldn’t realise that while reading her brilliant translation. https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/20...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ruben

    3,5 Veronesi is one of my favourite Italian authors and this is, I think, his fifth book I read. Caos calmo and La forza del passato are absolute favourites. He writes beautifully and also il Colibri reads extremely easily, is full with beautiful sentences and spot-on metaphors. Still, as a novel, the book does not convince. I kept wondering whether Veronesi had an idea about what he actually wanted to say. There are a lot of little lectures and there is a lot of action in Il colibri: there are s 3,5 Veronesi is one of my favourite Italian authors and this is, I think, his fifth book I read. Caos calmo and La forza del passato are absolute favourites. He writes beautifully and also il Colibri reads extremely easily, is full with beautiful sentences and spot-on metaphors. Still, as a novel, the book does not convince. I kept wondering whether Veronesi had an idea about what he actually wanted to say. There are a lot of little lectures and there is a lot of action in Il colibri: there are suicides, infedelity, family traumas, but what is the bigger point? That the main character stays himself and remains where he is? And so? Perhaps there was no bigger point in Caos calmo either, just an (even more) passive main character, but somehow that didn't matter one bit. It was a profoundly moving and contemplative work. But in Il colibri it does matter, something is missing and I am left not entirely satisfied.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tuti

    (read in german translation). delicate and very sad story of the tragedies of a family - and of a great poetic love over the years. build like a puzzle, with chapters from different moments in the life of the protagonist which are almost independent (some could work as short stories) - it does come together beautifully.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A month ago I was completely unaware that Florence was flooded in 1966, and that ‘mud angels’ worked tirelessly to rescue important works of art and literature. Completely unintentionally, this is the second novel I’ve read this month that is not only set in Florence but also references that event ( the first being Still Life by Sarah Winman). I do wonder if my books are telling me something! Maybe a little post COVID trip? This is a highly original novel that tells the story of the life of Marco A month ago I was completely unaware that Florence was flooded in 1966, and that ‘mud angels’ worked tirelessly to rescue important works of art and literature. Completely unintentionally, this is the second novel I’ve read this month that is not only set in Florence but also references that event ( the first being Still Life by Sarah Winman). I do wonder if my books are telling me something! Maybe a little post COVID trip? This is a highly original novel that tells the story of the life of Marco Carrera, the hummingbird, an ophthalmologist with a knack for staying still while the world around him moves. Veronesi experiments with form and structure to create something thought provoking and unique. The story is told through various forms; emails, letters, conversations, conference notes, traditional prose and even a household inventory. This forces us to piece together the jigsaw of Marco’s life for ourselves. The structure reinforces this. The book begins in 1999, when, against all protocol, Marco Carreras wife’s psychotherapist warns him of her plan to do him in. During this scene we learn about many of the key events that will be explained in more detail later. The narrative then swings wildly from Marcos childhood in the 70s to his old age in the 2020s and every-when in between. Few things happen in chronological order and as a result of this we find ourselves puzzling out the pieces to create a coherent narrative. The effect is almost mosaic like. By the end of the novel, we feel like we’re experts on Marco Carrera but, in fact, our impressions are pieced together through actually very few moments in his life, ranging from the earth-shattering to the mundane. We’re given mere snippets of his life but from them we seem to learn so much. I do enjoy novels that span the entire life of a protagonist. I tend to find them quite moving, and this was no different. We watch as Marco faces trauma, deals with a love that was never meant to be and has a smattering of happiness thrown in. It is a very human tale. Overall, this is not a novel to choose if you’re looking for an action packed page turner but if you’re in the mood for a little existential angst and some quiet philosophical questioning, I would recommend this absorbing and original read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Philippe Franco

    Overall a disappointing book. The continuous hopping back and forth in time and the non-stop drama never fully caught me. The lack of strong personality of the main character did not help intriguing. I persisted reading because of all praise the book received but personally in the end I'm not impressed and therefore rather surpised by all the positive press it has been attributed. Sometimes I really had to chew too long on neverending sentences in the Dutch translation. Overall a disappointing book. The continuous hopping back and forth in time and the non-stop drama never fully caught me. The lack of strong personality of the main character did not help intriguing. I persisted reading because of all praise the book received but personally in the end I'm not impressed and therefore rather surpised by all the positive press it has been attributed. Sometimes I really had to chew too long on neverending sentences in the Dutch translation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Worth it for the last 14 pages alone

  10. 4 out of 5

    maddalena

    Bah

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    The Hummingbird (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) by Sandro Veronesi had a wonderful review in The Guardian recently. In my ignorance I had not heard of this author who is the only writer to twice win the most coveted Italian literary prize, the Premio Strega. This book was described as ‘magnificent’, and a work produced by Italy’s best living (known?) novelist at the peak of his powers. As if this was not reason enough, thank you for the treat in the post, Orion! It’s a wonderful book that covers so man The Hummingbird (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) by Sandro Veronesi had a wonderful review in The Guardian recently. In my ignorance I had not heard of this author who is the only writer to twice win the most coveted Italian literary prize, the Premio Strega. This book was described as ‘magnificent’, and a work produced by Italy’s best living (known?) novelist at the peak of his powers. As if this was not reason enough, thank you for the treat in the post, Orion! It’s 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. A special note for the translator Elena Pala whose first novel to produce this is – my Italian is not good enough to rate its accuracy but it tells a wonderful tale nonetheless.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)

    The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson June 24th and wonderfully translated by Elena Pala. Originally published in Italy in 2019, The Hummingbird won the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Booker Prize making Sandro Veronesi only the second author in its seventy-three year history to have won the award twice. The Hummingbird is the first book-length translation for Elena Pala, a commercial and literary translator from Italian and French. The Hummingbir The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson June 24th and wonderfully translated by Elena Pala. Originally published in Italy in 2019, The Hummingbird won the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Booker Prize making Sandro Veronesi only the second author in its seventy-three year history to have won the award twice. The Hummingbird is the first book-length translation for Elena Pala, a commercial and literary translator from Italian and French. The Hummingbird is described as an ‘extraordinary novel, a book that will surprise, delight and move. A book that is deeply engaged with our times which offers a vision of the future that is full of grace and hope.’ On picking this novel up I knew I was about to embark on a very special journey, one that would encourage me to reflect on my own life and the road ahead. Marco Carrera suffered from a growth disorder as a young boy and he was given the nickname ‘the hummingbird’. Yet it also perfectly reflected his ability through the turmoil of life to remain almost static, like the hummingbird itself that ‘makes twelve to eighty wing beats per second, but remains suspended in air, seemingly motionless.’ Marco Carrera experienced many highs and lows over the years, but although his world might have been exploding around him. Marco remained collected and calm. He has now tragically buried many members of his family, his wife has left him, his brother doesn’t respond to any of his emails and his daughter is no longer available to mind her child, leaving Marco alone in raising his granddaughter. He is resolute about how his life has played out and is accepting of the cards dealt him. Never one to complain, he just picks up and starts over every time. The location is very strong in this novel as Veronesi transports his readers to Rome and Florence. The chapters travel back over the years revealing snapshots of Carrera’s life and the challenges he faced from his youthful days. The all time love of his life Luisa is central to his story as their ‘star-crossed-lover’ romance plays out across the years. Told through narrative, dialogue, emails, letters and poetry, The Hummingbird never allows the reader to be complacent as we piece together the emotional and nostalgic tale of this oft-times seemingly doomed man. Very much a tale about the various relationships through life that we collect and abandon, The Hummingbird is a beautiful piece of prose. Marco Carrera is an ordinary man, an ophthalmologist, with an extraordinary story to tell. He faces inordinate challenges with grace and finesse. He is a model of serenity at the most chaotic of times, in particular toward the latter pages where my heart just melted. The Hummingbird is a silent book that just creeps up on you, inviting you to question your own humanity and existence. The Hummingbird is a book that gives hope for the future as seen through the lens of Marco Carrera and Sandro Veronesi. There is so much detail in this novel, with every sentence, every word carrying such weight and the whole book is packed with vivid descriptions and incredible characters. The Hummingbird is a joyous and mesmerizing journey that will enchant and delight all readers. A book that combines pain, grief, tragedy, love, compassion, regrets and so much more, The Hummingbird is truly an exceptional piece of writing. My Rating ~4.5*

  13. 5 out of 5

    The Book Club

    Marco, since his childhood has been called the hummingbird, due to the growth disorder he has suffered as a boy. But that’s not the only reason, as Luisa says in one of her letters: “You really are a hummingbird and not because you were so little. You are a hummingbird because all your energy is spent keeping still. Seventy wing beats per second only to remain where you are. And you truly are formidable at this. You can keep still as time flows around you, you can stop it flowing, sometimes you ca Marco, since his childhood has been called the hummingbird, due to the growth disorder he has suffered as a boy. But that’s not the only reason, as Luisa says in one of her letters: “You really are a hummingbird and not because you were so little. You are a hummingbird because all your energy is spent keeping still. Seventy wing beats per second only to remain where you are. And you truly are formidable at this. You can keep still as time flows around you, you can stop it flowing, sometimes you can turn back time, even- just like a hummingbird, you can fly backwards and retrieve lost time.” And so while he experience all the love, grief, joy and heartbreak that life has to offer while caring for his dying parents, and of her orphaned granddaughter, he stays still and true to himself, and something that he writes in one of his letter explains why: “The fact is, when things change it’s easy to see that they change for a reason, but it’s not as easy to understand that there’s a reason things stay the way they are, too. This is because we’ve been glorifying change for such a long time now, that all everyone wants is change - even when it’s just change for change’s sake. Therefore, inevitably, those who move on are brave and those who stay still are coward, those who change are enlightened and those who don’t are ignorant. It’s the zeitgeist. That’s why I was glad to see you’ve realised that it takes a lot of effort and courage to keep still too.” Marco symbolises the hero of our times, someone who lives fully and look at the future with hope. Sandro Veronesi writing style is intimate, and made me feel at times as if this story was meant for me only. Definitely a different prose and book to the ones I usually read, and i struggled initially to get used to it and be open minded, but I’m glad I got to read the book winner of the Premio Strega. As a bilingual reader (Italian/English) I always feel that unfortunately whenever translating a book from a language to another the book loses always a bit of his soul, but I would still recommend people to grab this book with an open mind, cause is definitely thought provoking.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    The ‘colibrì’ is a humming-bird and this theme reverberates throughout the novel. Not only is the narrator himself known by that nickname, owing to his small size for his age as a boy, but the structure of the book resembles the quick, hovering flight of a humming-bird, moving swiftly backwards and forwards from one event to another. This is a recipe for some confusion in the early stages as one flits from the late 1990s to the seventies, then the sixties, then forward to 2008 but one gradually The ‘colibrì’ is a humming-bird and this theme reverberates throughout the novel. Not only is the narrator himself known by that nickname, owing to his small size for his age as a boy, but the structure of the book resembles the quick, hovering flight of a humming-bird, moving swiftly backwards and forwards from one event to another. This is a recipe for some confusion in the early stages as one flits from the late 1990s to the seventies, then the sixties, then forward to 2008 but one gradually comes to understand the basis of the story and appreciate how the disparate events and memories contribute to the whole. It is essentially the story of the narrator’s life. Although an outwardly unremarkable eye-doctor, his life is gouged by tragic events such as the deaths of his sister and, later, his only daughter. The implications of these events are only revealed gradually through the episodic framework of the book. Sometimes one comes across what one later realizes to be a consequence of an earlier event before it is actually related. This eventually serves to deepen one’s understanding and render the whole story more memorable than a simple chronological account would be. Most remarkable is the narrator’s relationship with his grand-daughter Miraijin, the Man of the Future, whom he rears after his daughter’s untimely death. This is a very intense relationship to the extent that the narrator takes the baby with him everywhere, even to his gambling haunts, where he sets up her hammock while he goes about his business. Miraijin does turn out to be special and involved in improving the world, although how she does this is left vague. The ending of the book, set in the near future – 2030, brings together all the characters at the death of the narrator. I was surprised to see such an ending in an Italian book, given the current state of opinion in the country about assisted dying, and commend the author for providing such a sensitive account.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    Well I simply adored this book. You know when something is on your radar, but it’s not ON your radar?! Well if this is one of those, please rectify that because it is simply marvellous! The Hummingbird is the story of Marco Carrera, so named originally because of his diminutive size, but eventually because of his ability to stay so still whilst the world around him changes. Told through a combination of narrative, letters and conversations, this is the story of his life, his family, his loves, a Well I simply adored this book. You know when something is on your radar, but it’s not ON your radar?! Well if this is one of those, please rectify that because it is simply marvellous! The Hummingbird is the story of Marco Carrera, so named originally because of his diminutive size, but eventually because of his ability to stay so still whilst the world around him changes. Told through a combination of narrative, letters and conversations, this is the story of his life, his family, his loves, and his purpose in this world. I’m not going to give too much away, but all I can say is that this is one of the most exquisite family sagas I’ve ever read, and there’s something so charismatic and enchanting about Marco which left me unable to put this book down for a minute. It’s strange, because this is a really tragic story full of loss and heartache, and yet all I felt whilst reading it was this lightness and joy. There’s something about the writing, and Marco himself which just creates this hopeful feeling whilst reading. It’s hard to explain! This is also a novel with an important message about the times we find ourselves in, and the risks to our future if good people don’t step up and keep things straight - there are whole pages dedicated to these risks from outright racism and homophobia to the rise of fake news and the frightening leadership some of us find ourselves with. I got quite emotional reading this part, and found it really poignant. I just can’t recommend this enough - it was probably one of my biggest surprise reads of the year. Beautifully written, with characters to fall in love with, and incredibly moving, this is a hopeful and charming story which I hope other readers will fall for as much as I did!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Italo Perazzoli

    I just finished to read this book read by Fabrizio Gifuni comfortably seated on my armchair and warmed by the fireplace and by my kitten during this cold evenings of December. The incipit is very interesting, who won on the inevitable drowsiness, where I known the main character, Marco Carrera, an ophthalmologist, and Marco Carradori, the psychoanalyst, and Marco's wife, asking him questions who aren't impossible to avoid, because they have trapped the Marco's ego. Through the dialogues, I discove I just finished to read this book read by Fabrizio Gifuni comfortably seated on my armchair and warmed by the fireplace and by my kitten during this cold evenings of December. The incipit is very interesting, who won on the inevitable drowsiness, where I known the main character, Marco Carrera, an ophthalmologist, and Marco Carradori, the psychoanalyst, and Marco's wife, asking him questions who aren't impossible to avoid, because they have trapped the Marco's ego. Through the dialogues, I discovered that, Marco Carrera has a father engineer and his mother is an architect, they are bourgeois, they are florentine. The life of Marco is devastated by the lost of his sister, he is married with Marina, their marriage is subject by falsehood and betrayal, as his parents, he has a platonic lover, named Luisa, their correspondence is interrupted by he death of Adele Carrera his daughter. Marco like the hummingbird, struggles with all his strength to find a point of his existence. In my opinion the daughter of Adele, Miraijin is fundamental for his existence, thanks to her, Marco keep on living having a purpose. The part that I liked is when Marco tells to have won a huge sum of money, at the expense of his false friend, surprisingly he asked to have back his mother's photo album, he will return to be an hummingbird

  17. 5 out of 5

    Catalina

    Just like the hummingbird, there's beauty in this novel, but the constant movement between periods (the timeline is just crazy, luckily it doesn't matter that much if you keep track of it or not) and subjects works against the development of strong feelings for our protagonist. And that's counterproductive as The Hummingbird is the story of Mario's life, with its ups and downs but mostly downs; and his incredible capacity to step in when everything is falling apart around him, and to get up afte Just like the hummingbird, there's beauty in this novel, but the constant movement between periods (the timeline is just crazy, luckily it doesn't matter that much if you keep track of it or not) and subjects works against the development of strong feelings for our protagonist. And that's counterproductive as The Hummingbird is the story of Mario's life, with its ups and downs but mostly downs; and his incredible capacity to step in when everything is falling apart around him, and to get up after every tragedy. I have a lot of admiration for him, but sadly cannot say I cared much about his problems: his marriage issues bored me, his love story annoyed me... The only part I've really enjoyed was the story of his parents, and in particular the emails he was sending to his brother gorgeously describing the story of the items belonging to their parents. *Book from NetGalley with many thanks to the publisher!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim Kindberg

    Took a long time to get into The Hummingbird (title in UK). Too many words about not very much in the way of plausible characters. (And the largely epistolary love affair running throughout the book never convinced.) It was Death that tipped me into it: suddenly I was reliving the deaths of loved (and not so loved) ones that I have experienced; suddenly I cared about the character, Marco, who was experiencing them. The book is very sentimental - not normally my cup of tea - but in a time of deat Took a long time to get into The Hummingbird (title in UK). Too many words about not very much in the way of plausible characters. (And the largely epistolary love affair running throughout the book never convinced.) It was Death that tipped me into it: suddenly I was reliving the deaths of loved (and not so loved) ones that I have experienced; suddenly I cared about the character, Marco, who was experiencing them. The book is very sentimental - not normally my cup of tea - but in a time of death and impending environmental apocalypse I'll take its respite. A word about the translation: why turn Italian vernacular into Britishisms? It comes across as odd when we're acutely aware that the speakers are Italian; surely there's a more subtle way to render them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pow Wow

    I taught myself Italian and this is the first novel I completed in the language so I’ve certainly missed some things. It’s mostly an engaging read, the temporal structure, the changes between epistolary parts and omniscient narration, the short chapters all keep the reader curious and on his or her toes. There’s some great characters (a friend of the main protagonist whose presence portends bad luck, for example) and there’s beautiful passages, Veronesi knows how to write. However, the author se I taught myself Italian and this is the first novel I completed in the language so I’ve certainly missed some things. It’s mostly an engaging read, the temporal structure, the changes between epistolary parts and omniscient narration, the short chapters all keep the reader curious and on his or her toes. There’s some great characters (a friend of the main protagonist whose presence portends bad luck, for example) and there’s beautiful passages, Veronesi knows how to write. However, the author seems kinda set on writing the big novel that explains the universe and lays on everything thick. There’s a drowning/ suicide during which two central couples have sex. I mean how heavy handed can you get? Towards the end it completely degenerates into kitsch. The Miraijin talk of the new human is esoteric, almost proto fascist nonsense. A tale told by an idiot then, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing and unbearably vain to boot. Nonetheless, I kinda liked reading it while it lasted and was even moved at times. Go figure.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valentina

    It is an interesting book. It follows the lilfe of the main character, who has been called Colibri' when he was a kid, because of his little height. At the end this name turns out to be very adapted to his way of facing life. This interpretation gives a philosophical side to the whole book. Interesting the atemporal development: we jump from the 80s to the 2000 something to today continuously, going back and forth btween two levels of past and the actual present. It is a bit bewildering and difficu It is an interesting book. It follows the lilfe of the main character, who has been called Colibri' when he was a kid, because of his little height. At the end this name turns out to be very adapted to his way of facing life. This interpretation gives a philosophical side to the whole book. Interesting the atemporal development: we jump from the 80s to the 2000 something to today continuously, going back and forth btween two levels of past and the actual present. It is a bit bewildering and difficult to follow if you don't read without too long breaks, but at the end all pieces of the puzzle get together.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Arianna

    Veronesi knows how to write and how to capture the reader, this is undeniable. However, despite his constant focus on feelings, emotions, relationships and (often dysfunctional) families, he fails to lighten that sense of belonging and empathy that everyone's seeking when reading a book. All narrated events are plausible, even when brought to the extreme (as life sometimes is), but there's always something missing, which fails to cut the distance between the reader and the story. A pity, but a f Veronesi knows how to write and how to capture the reader, this is undeniable. However, despite his constant focus on feelings, emotions, relationships and (often dysfunctional) families, he fails to lighten that sense of belonging and empathy that everyone's seeking when reading a book. All narrated events are plausible, even when brought to the extreme (as life sometimes is), but there's always something missing, which fails to cut the distance between the reader and the story. A pity, but a fairly good book nonetheless.

  22. 4 out of 5

    AYCIL

    Read it in the original at the same time as C read it in translation. It came with rave reviews so we had great expectations. He writes beautifully, stylishly. I can see why he is a prize winner. But, oh, the plot. A little complicated with the chronology but manageable. Too much death and depression for me. I made it nearly to the end but C told me it got worse, so I quit. Disappointed. A pity as, had it been a little less morose, it would have been amazing. I also found it hard to engage/relat Read it in the original at the same time as C read it in translation. It came with rave reviews so we had great expectations. He writes beautifully, stylishly. I can see why he is a prize winner. But, oh, the plot. A little complicated with the chronology but manageable. Too much death and depression for me. I made it nearly to the end but C told me it got worse, so I quit. Disappointed. A pity as, had it been a little less morose, it would have been amazing. I also found it hard to engage/relate to the characters.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Original: It takes a while to get used to this as you navigate through a mixture of letters, emails, conversations... over the years which are also not chronological. However, it is well worth it. Intelligent, well crafted fiction. An ophthalmologist has a life of mixed fortunes and as you piece together the patchwork you think about how you would react to events and your responses to life, loves, disappointments, betrayals, reconciliation etc.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ShanKL (ShopCoffeeKids - Instagram)

    A beautiful story about of Marco Carrera, "The Hummingbird." His life is wrought with challenges, but his demeanor is one of constant calm. Marco creates a world around him full of intention, even with the most devasting of life demands. The Hummingbird is a story of loss, joy, love and purpose. I absolutely loved the story, and the ending was full of emotion. Truly a masterpiece. A beautiful story about of Marco Carrera, "The Hummingbird." His life is wrought with challenges, but his demeanor is one of constant calm. Marco creates a world around him full of intention, even with the most devasting of life demands. The Hummingbird is a story of loss, joy, love and purpose. I absolutely loved the story, and the ending was full of emotion. Truly a masterpiece.

  25. 4 out of 5

    VeraVC

    4,5 rounded down. I was pleasantly surprised by this book I picked up from my Dad’s bookshelf. Based on the blurb I expected a tale of melancholy and woe, but instead found a rather (and oddly) hopeful story of a man whose life was filled with plenty of tragedies, but not defined by it. Or maybe it IS defined by it, just not solely negatively?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emma Hardy

    This is by far one of the most beautiful books ever written. I love the experimental styles of letters, messages, calls, direct narration, its so clever. The plot felt real, raw, relatable. It covers a huge time period and you feel like you know the characters so well. Its complexity, yet simplicity is sublime and outstanding. Absolutely breathtaking.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    3 - 4, more in some parts, less in others, I was often unsure whether I liked or loved this book so uneven was it. Reminding me of Ginzburg’s ‘Happiness, As Such’ at times but more playful and less somber. More like A Life, As Such and although the novel is ultimately mainly triumphant it’s also melancholic and somehow inconclusive.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    This is a wonderful novel. It is a "slice of life," but it is likely the reader can see oneself in many of the tragedies that that main character endured in his life. The times of the protagonist's life skipped around in the novel and I found it difficult to follow for a portion of the story but it eventually became clear and ultimately it really worked. This is a wonderful novel. It is a "slice of life," but it is likely the reader can see oneself in many of the tragedies that that main character endured in his life. The times of the protagonist's life skipped around in the novel and I found it difficult to follow for a portion of the story but it eventually became clear and ultimately it really worked.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Galvani

    The Hummingbird in translation. Beautiful prose like The Leopard. Non-linear timeline which I thought was going to build into a magnificent early John Irving-style plot but went sideways instead. Still a good read but thought it was going to be a great read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    Really lovely tale of family, love, and impossible fates. As sincere and lovely as it was hilarious and sad--that perfect little melange of things, all in one. Audiobook accessed through the libro.fm bookseller program! Really lovely tale of family, love, and impossible fates. As sincere and lovely as it was hilarious and sad--that perfect little melange of things, all in one. Audiobook accessed through the libro.fm bookseller program!

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