More Praise For The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter, which I’ve praised on this blog and elsewhere, received another glowing review, this time from Stacey D’Erasmo in the Sunday NY Times:

The style that Urrea has adopted to tell Teresita’s — and Mexico’s — story partakes of this politics as well, being simultaneously dreamy, telegraphic and quietly lyrical. Like a vast mural, the book displays a huge cast of workers, whores, cowboys, rich men, bandits and saints while simultaneously making them seem to float on the page. Urrea’s sentences are simple, short and muscular; he mixes low humor with metaphysics, bodily functions with deep and mysterious stirrings of the soul. These 500 pages — though they could have been fewer — slip past effortlessly, with the amber glow of slides in a magic lantern, each one a tableau of the progress of earthy grace: Teresita crouched in the dirt praying over the souls of ants, Teresita having a vision of God’s messenger not as the fabled white dove but as an indigenous hummingbird, Teresita plucking lice from the hair of a battered Indian orphan in a ‘pus-shellacked jacket.’

D’Erasmo raises a good point. My only quibble with the novel is that it could have been perhaps 50 pages shorter. But that’s an easily forgiveable misstep, since Urrea writes so beautifully I found myself breathless at some of his sentences.