Matt HAIG “The Humans” importantly sub-titled ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ (2013, Cannongate Books Ltd, Edinburgh, 9780857868756) a touching sci-fi novel that explores what it is to be human.
The story of the ultimate outsider who’s insights allow us to glimpse the peculiarities of the human condition: the mass of contradictions that makes us a wonderful species….although dogs are (of course) better.
Having solved the world’s greatest mathematical puzzle Cambridge professor Andrew Martin vanishes. Discovered he is different. Struggling with a world at odds with his rational mind and living amongst a repulsive species Martin believes he will easily complete the murderous task he has been given. Reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson, listening to the music of Debussy and making friends with a dog called Newton might just stop him.
Don’t let the words insightful or philosophical put you off reading Haig’s wonderful little book. It has humour and through the Professor’s first person narrative you will explore with startling clarity the reaches of emotion. I can’t say it better than Jeanette Winterson, ‘Matt Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin.’
As this week’s book on a train it was perfect. Practically it has short ’chapters’. I could leave off reading at important junctures as I reached my station, left hungry to start reading again on my return trip. Following Martin’s journey of realization while biting your nails as he confronts what he must do prevents the book from becoming maudlin. I recommend it unreservedly and would suggest you take on some of the wisdom it contains:
– ‘If there is a sunset, stop and look at it. Knowledge is finite. Wonder is infinite.’
– ‘A cow is a cow even if you call it beef.’
Thank you KC for the recommendation.