Matt Haig - The Humans (4 stars)

Astute, drolly hilarious and beautiful insight into what it is to be human

Matt Haig - The Humans

As Matt Haig acknowledges at the end of this marvellously humane and very funny fifth novel, both The Humans and his writing career originated in a breakdown that became a breakthrough. Recovering from severe panic attacks by reading and crafting narratives, storytelling helped Haig to reconsider what it meant to be a mortal, earthborn bioped.

With shades of The Man Who Fell to Earth, the book's narrator is an advanced alien being who steals the body of Cambridge Professor, Andrew Martin, an eminent mathematician who has just made a critical advance in the understanding of prime numbers. Lest unstable, aggressive humanity acts upon Martin's discovery to advance their civilisation, the imposter is charged with eradicating all proof, along with the professor's wife and troubled teenage son.

Struggling to comprehend such exotic concepts as clothes, death, love, peanut butter sandwiches and Emily Dickinson's poetry, the alien's outsider perspective is perpetually perplexed but astute, drolly hilarious and occasionally beautiful, full of poignant and painful insight into what it is to be human.

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