Sofia Segovia, author of ‘The Murmur of Bees,’ is reading Elena Ferrante’s ‘Neapolitan Novels’

The Mexican novelist finds surprises in Markus Zusak’s ‘Bridge of Clay’ and comfort in a 70-year-old copy of ‘The Jungle Book.’
Published April 12

Segovia’s novel El murmullo de las abejas has already seen success in its original Spanish, and this month marks the release of its English translation, The Murmur of Bees. Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and swirling with magical realism, the book centers on a mysterious orphan named Simonopio. Born with a cleft lip and discovered blanketed in bees, the child is taken in by the Morales family, ranchers in Mexico’s northeast region. They come to learn Simonopio is no ordinary child; he’s capable of seeing the future, both the good and the bad.

Segovia, whose other novels include Peregrinos (Pilgrims) and Noche de huracán (Hurricane Night), is from Monterrey, Mexico.

What’s on your nightstand?

I am doing too much research right now, so my reading fiction for pleasure is not as intense as I would like. I just finished The Neapolitan Novels 1-4 by Elena Ferrante, in Spanish. She goes deep into the ups and downs of the friendship of two girls from childhood to adulthood. Very Italian, very good. I also recently finished Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, about a family of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War. It’s the first time I read anything by Orringer. I like her pacing and her empathetic writing style. One can tell that she deeply invests herself in her story, and I love that. From that bridge, and just by chance, I jumped to the next. Now I’m halfway through Bridge of Clay, Markus Zusak’s new novel about five brothers in Australia. I was very surprised by his roundabout approach to the story, but I do like surprises. This is not The Book Thief, and I respect that. If you are not writing a series, you should take a new road with a new story or risk repeating yourself, especially after a great success like The Book Thief. Next in line is Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart. I hope it’s good.

As a young reader, what was the first book you read that was translated from English?

I don’t know which came first, but I remember Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Enid Blyton’s series Five Find-Outers. I loved them, but my favorite carry-everywhere-I-went book was Rudyard Kipling’s El libro de las tierras vírgenes. The Jungle Book, the real deal, not Disney’s version. I loved to just open it at any random page and start from there and then go backward and forward again. My copy was first my mother’s. I still have it, but I can no longer leaf through it. It is close to 70 years old, and it shows.

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