The Humans by Matt Haig

Cover of The Humans by Matt HaigThis was the first book we read for BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Book Club, which features every month on Claire Carter’s show. Caroline Sanderson and I join her to discuss the book of the month live on air, and listeners are welcome to phone in their views too. You can read more about the show on my author blog here: Multimedia Me.

This book was chosen by Caroline Sanderson, who already knew Haig’s work and was due shortly to interview him at a book event in Cheltenham. I came to it knowing nothing about it or him, and plunged straight in.

When I first picked this book up, I wondered how anyone could write a book like this without being derivative of related classics such as The Man Who Fell To Earth, Mork and Mindy, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, ET, etc – but Matt Haig has done something different here, the true value only really hitting home when one arrives at the afterword and discovers the story was inspired and informed by the serious clinical depression suffered by the author in his 20s.

It’s a quirky but sweet and moving story about alienation in every sense, seen through the eyes of an alien who poses as a human. The narrative contains lots of funny observations and great throwaway lines, interspersed with poignant comments and desperate observations about the nature of humanity, though ultimately life-affirming and leaving you with a warm glow long after you close the final page.

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3 thoughts on “The Humans by Matt Haig

  1. Interesting the list you make above: the danger of a genre developing of mere look-alikes. Glad you found it wasn’t, and that the author wrote from own experience.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Mari. I think an author takes a big risk when publishing a book that just asks to be compared to other similar titles, whether or not they overtly make the comparison themselves. I’m just in the middle of reading “The Lttle Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules”, which is many have compared to “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared”, and found it wanting. I haven’t read the latter yet, but am planning to at least read the “look inside” bit on Amazon to draw my own conclusions.

    On the other hand, it’s tricky to market something that doesn’t fall into a particular genre or type, so fraught with difficulty either way really!

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    • Where there are bandwagons, people will jump on them … or will appear to through the spectacles others are wearing …
      ‘Those who can’t teach creative writing (or become critics)’

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