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The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi • #128


Since publication in 2019 The Hummingbird, by Italian Sandro Veronesi (translated into English by Elena Pala), has wowed readers and fellow-authors alike. ‘A gripping masterpiece’, ‘a life-affirming triumph’ ‘unforgettable’… Just what is all the fuss about?

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 as they approach the end of their lives; raising his granddaughter when her mother, Marco’s own child, can no longer be there for her; 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.

The publishers say ‘A thrilling novel about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end’ while The Sunday Times reviewer commented: ‘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.’

But did The Hummingbird make for a good book club book? We’re joined by pod regular Phil Chaffee and first-timer Jo Norman, both members of Laura’s book club, to find out. We also recommend four unmissable novels by international authors we think you should know about.

Listen via the media player above or use this link to open the show in your preferred podcast player.

Reading list for The Hummingbird podcast episode

The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi (trans. Elena Pala)

Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp (trans. Jo Heinrich)

The Martin Beck novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöo (Joan Tate)

Periera Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi (Patrick Creagh)

The Door by Magda Szabó (Len Rix)

Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginsberg (Jenny McPhee)


Watch The Hummingbird film trailer

If you enjoyed this episode why not try episode 124, on rediscovered French classic The Inseparables by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Lauren Elkin.


[to come]


Have thoughts on this episode? Are you team Kate or team Laura? Whenever you listen to the show you can always let us know via this comments forum. And don’t forget to leave us a book recommendation, tell us one of your favourite books in translation or an original we might not know about.


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